The tweet was from @LewisNicholas, posted in the second half of Kansas’ game against Kent State in December of 2014.
“Wayne Selden and Jamari Traylor hanging out,” it read, with a picture of two garbage bags next to each other.
Though the message received no retweets and only three likes, it still somehow made it all the way to the basketball players themselves.
“That was pretty funny,” Traylor said. “Me and Wayne laughed at it.”
As KU’s basketball players arrived at the Embassy Suites Des Moines Downtown on Tuesday afternoon in advance of Thursday’s 3 p.m. game against Austin Peay, they did so already with a lot on their minds.
Today’s high-profile athletes have added stressors as well: The social media platforms they often go on — think Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat — can be filled with fans that are quick to criticize.
“Most of the time, it’s like people who are not really credible, just people sitting at home, saying whatever,” Traylor said. “They don’t really mean too much to me. You actually don’t have to watch it.”
The challenge comes in trying to separate everything out. Most college kids use social media as a way to connect with friends. When doing that, though, it can be difficult to block out other noise as well.
“Early in my career, you’re so interested in what people are saying and whatnot,” KU forward Landen Lucas said. “You quickly learn that’s not the route to go.”
KU players differed in the way they consumed social media. Lucas, who has over 21,000 Twitter followers, is following only 33 users on the site while trying to limit the feedback he gets.
Guard Frank Mason said he didn’t check Twitter much as teammates, mostly “because there’s so many negative things on there and so many negative comments.”
“You just don’t need any negative vibes heading into the next month,” Mason said. “We just want to keep our focus on the right things. Don’t focus on the things you can’t control.”
Mason, of course, responded publicly to Twitter criticism just two weeks ago. After ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla ranked him as the Big 12’s sixth-best point guard on Feb. 8, Mason sent out a Feb. 29 tweet saying, “‘6th best PG in the Big 12’ but what is my team?”
A few days later, KU coach Bill Self told reporters he had no problem with what Mason tweeted. Mason claims he never even saw Fraschilla’s original message.
“I just got the news. Someone told me that’s what he had said,” Mason said. “I just expressed my feelings.”
Traylor admits to being on social media a lot, especially when he’s bored in his hotel room on KU’s trips. He says he’ll cycle repeatedly from Twitter to Instagram to Snapchat if he’s trying to waste time.
The key, Traylor says, is to have thick enough skin to let the negative comments go.
“I feel like I just don’t pay attention to it,” Traylor said. “I guess if you know you’re playing bad, I wouldn’t go look for it. That’s just one thing.”
Traylor has used Twitter as a way to connect with fans as well. Many supporters post pictures with the tag #marimonday, and many times, he retweets those photos to share them with his 36,000 followers.
There’s also a bit of entertainment value as well. That can happen when Traylor and Selden see something that makes them chuckle, just like Nick Lewis’ tweet did last season.
“Every once in awhile, it’s not that bad,” Traylor said with a smile. “We can laugh at it too.”