Portland Trail Blazers forward/center J.J. Hickson acknowledged that a series of Twitter messages he sent on Valentine's Day could have been construed as offensive, but said that it wasn't his intention to offend.
"I meant no harm by my tweets," Hickson said after the Blazers lost to the Phoenix Suns, 102-98, at the Rose Garden on Tuesday night. "I meant no harm in any way. I'm not that type of person to cause harm or commit harm to anyone. It's an opinion and everyone has one. It just matters what side of the fence you're on."
Hickson's messages were posted to his official @Hickson21 account and included a hashag "GirlBye," meant to indicate reasons he would leave or end a relationship with a female. Some users felt a number of the messages crossed the line. Examples included, "What you mean stop?" and "You don't give what?"
Hickson, 24, also posted a message of support for exotic dancers. "[Shout out] to all the strippers in the world," he wrote. "I know society [give] y'all a bad reputation. It's good tho I don't judge. I definitely respect y'all hustle."
The messages provoked responses that were both supportive and critical, and some users raised questions about the suggestive nature and demeaning tone of some of the messages.
Asked by Anne Peterson of the Associated Press if he understood that his messages might have offended some readers, he acknowledged that he did, upon reflection.
"Yeah, now that you asked me that question, yeah," he said.
Hickson was initially reluctant to discuss whether the messages reflected poorly on the Blazers, as his account indicates he plays for the team.
"We're here to talk tweets or we're here to talk basketball?", he asked.
Hickson then maintained that messages posted to his Twitter account represent his personal beliefs and do not reflect on the Blazers organization.
"I think I represent the Trail Blazers great," he said. "What I tweet and what I do outside of basketball, that's my personal things that I do. I could do something good and one million people would think it's good and one person thinks it's wrong."
The messages were meant to be humorous, he concluded.
"It definitely was jokes," he said of his intention. "Some people take it out of proportion and want to do other things with it. That's their problem, not mine."
The NBA has a social media policy that applies to its players but it's not yet clear whether Hickson's messages violated the policy. The Blazers said Tuesday that they will investigate.
Update (Wednesday): Anne Peterson of the Associated Press reports the following update...
A spokesman for the Blazers said Wednesday that Hickson's tweets were treated as an internal matter that has been addressed. The team has a Twitter policy which it reviews with the players.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter