THE BLOG

Dear Rajon Rondo

04/01/2015 11:38 am ET | Updated Jun 01, 2015

Dear Mr. Rondo,

On August 5th, 2011 I was kicked off of Twitter for impersonating you. And for that I am truly sorry.

It all started as a practical joke, just because I realized that @therealrondo was not taken yet on Twitter. But it quickly snowballed. My original concept for the joke was simple: to build up as many followers in your name as possible and then make a crazy announcement via Twitter to see if I could get ESPN to post it as a headline, so I could screen capture it before they realized it wasn't you. I thought this would be "funny." You see, in August of 2011 I was very bored. And even more underemployed than I was bored.

On the tame side, I was going to tweet that you were officially retiring to pursue a career in country music or that you believed in aliens. On the more extreme end, I was considering tweeting out "hey guyz, just found out the holocaust is a myth. always knew something was fishy about that story!" [sic] Looking back on this joke from the other side of 30, I can now see how this may have been a bridge too far, and in many ways I appreciate Twitter for preventing me from making it.

One thing that hadn't occurred to me when I started down this road was how far down the rabbit hole of identity theft I would fall. I had to find your voice, but I had rarely heard you speak except for an occasional interview, so I began to think, "What would Rajon Rondo tweet if Rajon Rondo ran his own Twitter?" I started simple. I would post YouTube highlight videos about you or links to stories about your most recent game. Slowly this spread to tweets like "Boy, coach sure gave us a tough workout today. #sweatin'" (I don't know why I decided to make your Twitter voice so folksy, but I did. You always said things like "Boy" or "Gosh.")

None of this was that terrible I suppose. But like any criminal I was beginning to escalate. And that's when all the direct messages began coming in.

After only a couple months, I (You? We?) had hundreds of followers. Again, on the tame side, I would get messages from fans saying I was their favorite player, and I would direct message them back, thanking them for their support. On the more extreme side, all I can say is that there are many young women on the internet who appreciate a handsome young NBA star. This was when I began to realize I was in over my head, and maybe that celebrity impersonation was indeed wrong.

Finally, on August 5th -- after six months and a few thousand followers -- the long arm of Twitter's Terms of Service caught up with me.

"It has come to our attention that your Twitter account is in violation of the Twitter Rules, specifically the section on Impersonation."

As if to shame me all the more, the message added:

"Impersonation is pretending to be another person or entity in order to deceive..."

And like that, it was all over. I had finally lived out the cliché: I'd "wanted to get caught" and I had been.

I've moved on since the incident, and I'm sure you have, too. But a few weeks ago I decided to try to get my old email address back on Twitter. (My long-time and current email was associated with the @therealrondo username.) I assumed that after four years, Twitter would forgive and forget. I wrote to them asking for forgiveness and instructions on freeing the account. They never wrote back, and the account remains suspended.

But I knew I had brought this on myself, and I soon began to reflect on the episode: Perhaps losing the ability to be easily found on Twitter by my email contacts was a fair price to pay. And perhaps apologizing to Twitter was only compounding my original mistake.

Because I didn't hurt Twitter, Rajon; I hurt you.

With my sincere apologies,
Sam Johnson (@smorganjohnson)