Greg Ostertag's abandoned Twitter account is Sports Internet magic

Joe Murphy/NBA

Meet Retired NBA Center Twitter, where Keith Closs is doing fine, Olden Polynice is retweeting Arsenio Hall and Greg Ostertag is eating Milk Duds and being a genius.

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There are dozens, hundreds of Twitters inside Twitter. Each of these tributaries -- lazy earnest trickles or howling swollen nightmare rapids -- is a Twitter unto itself. The confluence of these various goofstreams is Twitter's deafening noise-fall, the cascade of all these mighty rivers roaring together, above which the only thing that can be heard is the faint sound of Justin Bieber's latest lawyer-penned apology.

It's better, maybe, to think of Twitter as a universe. One consisting of smaller subsidiary cosmoses, each with their own gravitational systems and tectonic churns and punctuation-related customs. If Twitter is insignificant, which it mostly is, it is also impossibly vast and enfolds multiple multitudes.

All of which is a long way of saying that of course there is a Retired NBA Center Twitter out there.

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I will not claim to be the world's foremost scholar on this topic; I am sure that I'm not. Nor can I call myself a resident of Retired NBA Center Twitter, for obvious reasons. But I can show you around a little bit, if you'd like.


This is going to be reductive, of course. Basketball players are human beings, and naturally their Twitter personae differ dramatically in terms of outlook and output. For every smart and funny Kendall Marshall, there are five or so players who use their feeds exclusively to tweet gnomic, sad-about-bottle-service Drake lyrics. Yes, everyone on Twitter performs a louder and less afraid version of themselves, but there are still many different performances to give.

The result is often something like Olden Polynice's feed. The journeyman 7-footer seems to be doing OK, if you were worried. He also seems, more than most on Retired NBA Center Twitter, to be an exemplar of the Working On A Lot Of Projects Right Now type. Sometimes this means promoting a radio appearance or DJ gig, and sometimes that's giving unsolicited scouting tips to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles:

He's keeping busy, for sure, not least with letting you know how busy he is. I can report with complete confidence that if you want to know what Olden Polynice is up to, @OldenPolynice1 is the Twitter feed to follow. Also that he retweets Arsenio Hall often enough that I'd remark upon it.

A seeming absence of performance is what makes Keith Closs -- the stupendously gangly and generously freckled former Los Angeles Clippers backup -- one of my favorite people to follow on Retired NBA Center Twitter. Closs didn't last as long in the NBA as he might have, in large part because he was a serious alcoholic during his playing days.

But if Closs' time with the Clippers was defined by off-court idiocies of the sort that are generally associated with drunk people, his performance on Retired NBA Center Twitter is a much happier one. Closs still travels the world playing basketball, but mostly seems to be focused on his family and his longstanding sobriety. There may be no one alive who tweets more often or more vigorously about farting at AA meetings than the man presently calling himself Gaseous Clay:

For those old enough to remember Closs as one of the great human blast craters of his NBA generation, there's something really gratifying about how happily he has emerged from the wreckage, and kind of offhandedly inspiring about finding him so healthy, happy and dedicated to helping other people.

The ultimate in artifice-free Retired NBA Center Twitter, though -- the king in exile, the flat-topped monarch of butt tweets and all-caps typos -- is Greg Ostertag. The former Utah Jazz galoot appears to have retired from Twitter, although a look at the now-dormant @GregOstertag00 suggests that he also might have just forgotten his password or accidentally swallowed his phone:

Here, finally, is the ultimate in Retired NBA Center Twitter -- a former player offering access to his thoughts and personality without any sort of mediation or moderation. He seems somehow even more like himself than we would have dared dream:

It's worth noting that @GregOstertag00 is not verified, but it seems unlikely-unto-impossible that this is some sort of parody account. This is decidedly not because no one on Twitter would bother making a Greg Ostertag parody account. That is absolutely a thing that could happen.

The internet is huge and full of weirdos, and if anything, it's a wonder that there aren't three or four Greg Ostertag parody accounts currently doing their various things, one offering specious and circular Inspirational Guidance, another cracking wise about Pharrell's hat (it's big!) and a third muttering darkly about chemtrails:

No, the reason I believe Greg Ostertag's Twitter account to be authentic, and the reason I believe it to be the apex of Retired NBA Center Twitter, is that it seems impossible that it could be otherwise. At some elemental level, it seems impossible that Greg Ostertag could be any way but this or that he could write any tweets but these:

There's something sort of doomed and extremely human about the way we use Twitter. It gives us an opportunity to talk, and we scream profanities instead. It offers a novel and unique sort of closeness, but interactions on it tend toward a tense comedian-versus-audience distance.

But what works about Retired NBA Center Twitter -- and what especially works about Greg Ostertag's contribution to it -- is what works about Twitter. It's a reminder of how many different types of people and thoughts are out there, and also of how many ways there are to misspell simple words. It's a reminder of the silly and individuated human thing that is in every stranger, the half-thoughts that are unique to every thinker.

It's also a reminder that you spend too much time on Twitter.

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