There are few things more enjoyable in life than lurking on Twitter when the first wafts of NBA free agency rumors hit your nostrils. It's what made the hunt to find out if LeBron James was indeed returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 so thrilling. Any little thing, no matter how dumb or incredulous, that had to deal with LeBron's possible return was documented. His cars being packed up and shipped to Ohio. His kids landing in Cleveland for the summer. And finally, at the height of the insanity, the tracking of Dan Gilbert's private jet as the Cavs owner flew to meet LeBron in person. It was a magical time.
Just two shorts years later, Cavs Twitter had itself another day for the ages as rumors of Dwyane Wade's demise with the Miami Heat and subsequent interest in rejoining his BFF in Cleveland went from a slow simmer to a full on boil. It began only as it could, with a plane being tracked and visions of grandeur in our heads, then escalated quickly from there. This is the story of how Cavs Twitter turned what was once a fever dream, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on the Cavs, into a real possibility.
It began when Joe Lull, a former sports talk radio host at 92.3 The Fan and the man who tracked Dan Gilbert's initial venture to Miami in 2014, tweeted out a single link. Upon the clicking of said link, you were taken to a live tracking of jet traveling from Fort Lauderdale to Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland. Lull said nothing else, but we knew: this had to be D-Wade flying to Cleveland to meet with the Cavs. Nevermind the fact that Wade was in Ibiza, Spain, on vacation with his wife just hours before Lull tweeted that link. That is a fact that would get in the way of our dream, and so that fact must be dismissed.
Then, there was a collective alert to Gabrielle Union's most recent "likes" associated with her Twitter account, or other tweets Wade's wife felt resonated with her enough to be given acknowledgement. The common theme amongst these likes? Fans and NBA players alike railing against people who believe players owe loyalty to their current franchises in the wake of Kevin Durant spurning the OKC Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors. The conspiracy was alive and well.
Next came a tweet from Luxury Jets Group, the company that owns Dan Gilbert's private jet, that could go down as one of the most beautiful troll jobs by a corporation in Internet history. More logs were piled on to the D-Wade to Cleveland fire.
Finally, something tangible happened. ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Tuesday morning that Wade had cancelled a few of the free agent meetings he had scheduled for the day, while Ira Winderman, a writer for the Sun Sentinel, reported Wade had turned down the Heat's initial 2-year, $40 million contract offer.
This is where things began to spiral out of control. There was chaos everywhere you looked. No one was safe. All you could do was lock your doors, barricade your windows The Purge style and hold on through the ride.
First, the Cavs official Twitter account followed both Wade and Union. Then the Indians did the same. Then Wade started following the Cavs on Instagram, and you could almost feel planet Earth caving it on itself.
In a since deleted tweet, Fathead, a company owned by Gilbert, posted a photo of Wade photoshopped into a Cavs jersey with the caption "retweet if you want to see this happen." Fiction and reality were blurring together in beautiful harmony.
Then, finally, the finale of this crazy symphony: Wade's decision to take a meeting with the Cavs. A signing is doubtful, with the Cavs only able to offer Wade pennies compared to $50 million-plus teams like Denver can anty up, but still. A Twitter rumor blossomed into something real, and that in itself is insanity.