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Pat Fitzgerald learned a quick and harsh lesson this weekend about what not to say on Twitter.
Fitzgerald, the head coach at Northwestern, was watching New York Knicks' sensation Jeremy Lin throw down a career-high 38 points against Kobe and the Lakers on Saturday and decided to comment on the former Harvard player on Twitter.
@coachfitz51: There's finally a NBA player who plays hard and says the right things off the court
What may have seemed like an innocuous compliment to Lin, the Asian-American player who has certainly become the toast of New York, drew the ire of many NBA fans, who proclaimed Fitzgerald to be a racist among other things. Fans also took issue with the perceived diss of Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, who is widely considered one of the hardest working players in the NBA and one of the overall good guys in the league.
Of course, the tweet was taken down after the backlash started, but thanks to several retweets, and a grab by ESPN, Fitzgerald can't exactly hide from his uninformed generalization of the NBA and its players. The comment was just stupid. Yes, Jeremy Lin has burst onto the scene as some sort of basketball Messiah, but that doesn't give Fitzgerald carte blanche to degrade the rest of the league.
I agree with Paul M. Banks, who writes for chicagonow.com:
… Degrading an entire league of personnel with such a sweeping generalization is gross negligence/ignorant at best. As a coach and leader of a team, how would he appreciate it if an NBA coach made a similar tweet about college football? What if Avery Johnson all of a sudden said "Hey, I really like that Dan Persa, it's about time someone in college football actually started caring about the game."
Coaches tell players all the time about the repercussions of comments said in the spur of the moment on Twitter. Now Fitzgerald has a real-life example.
UPDATE: Northwestern director of football operations, Cody Cejda, is actually responsible for tweet, not Fitzgerald. According to Northwestern spokesman Doug Meffley: "While watching the Knicks game, Cody intended to tweet that from his own account, but he signed into Fitz's and made -- and subsequently deleted -- that tweet. Paul Banks has updated his Chicago Now blog to reflect that fact. Being a Southside product, Fitz is a huge Chicago sports guy and big Derrick Rose fan...we want to make sure that fact is known!"
So to all those fans who unfollowed @coachfitz51, it's safe to to get back on the Pat Fitzgerald bandwagon.