"I love the NBA and I've always liked how Lebron James plays the game and how he's stayed out of trouble and has had a great career despite all of the pressure on him since an early age," said Kris Mazur, an NBA fan in New York. "So when I heard he was active on Twitter I decided to join up and follow him. Three days later and there is no other athlete I have ever despised more than Lebron James."
Mazur's story is similar to many other fans on Twitter across all sports from basketball and football to NASCAR and golf who had hoped to follow their favorite athletes beyond news reports and soundbites.
"I eventually had to delete my Twitter account because I realized that I had started to root against every athlete and every team," said Dallas sports fan Kendall Riley. "Twitter was ruining sports for me. I've learned that it's better I just watch them perform on the field and not know that they can't spell, are stunningly egotistical or misogynistic, or just generally uninteresting and douchey."
Riley says he does, however, miss seeing updates from his favorite athletes on when they've woken up from naps, when they're planning to work out, or what they're eating.
"No, that's not true," says Riley. "I'm kidding. I could care less about all of that."
But other sports fans on Twitter say the service has allowed them to become better fans.
"I used to basically just root for laundry, you know uniforms," says Mike Stricker of Chicago. "But now, thanks to Twitter, I've uncovered a few athletes who seem genuinely nice, interesting and who I can relate to. So I root for them now and ignore or root against the others. I know that sounds insane to like an athlete for those reasons, but it's worked for me."
And while Lebron James may have lost a former fan in Mazur, James says Mazur's "unfollow" is fueling him to achieve greatness.
"This going out to all the HATERS," read a Tweet from @KingJames today. "You make me grate. Hate on THAT." The Tweet was quickly Re-Tweeted by @dwadeofficial and @chrisbosh and then by pretty much every other athlete you like.