Shabazz Napier has no shortage of followers, starting with Connecticut fans among the 80,000 or so folks expected to attend Monday night’s NCAA championship game against Kentucky at AT&T Stadium, and you could throw in a few million television viewers as well.
But Napier has no followers on Twitter because he doesn’t take part in that social network. Napier has his reasons. He said he is on Instagram but added with a smile, “I don’t know how to work Twitter to be honest.”
More importantly, Napier has seen countless cases of various athletes at pro and college levels getting themselves in trouble because of intemperate, ill-considered and sometimes just plain rude comments on Twitter. Demonstrating a level of maturity that equals his on-court demeanor, Napier made a conscious decision to avoid those problems.
“I’m very blunt,” Napier said. “I see certain things that fans may say that are so disrespectful. Sometimes, it’s overboard when they would say something about your family or wishing you could get hurt. I understand it in the sense they’re a fanatic, a fan, but it’s a game at the end of the day.
“I don’t want to be in a position where I say something back and I’m in the wrong for it. I’ve got to be the bigger person. You know the cliché, ‘Sticks and stones will break your bones, but not words.’ But no, words do hurt sometimes. I don’t want to be the guy to say something back. So, I just try to stay away from it.
“I know Twitter is something big, you can meet a lot of people and network a lot of people. But I feel as though I’m on the basketball court with thousands of fans watching. I think I’m networking there. So, that’s cool.”
Memo to countless professional and collegiate coaches and sports officials: Feel free to post Napier’s comments prominently in your team’s locker room.