[Big read ahead]
Yup, I’m back at it again. Welcome to the wiser, grown-up sequel of November’s 1633 word investigation into the GoDaddy Curse; “An Itty Bitty Conspiracy”.
My original article on this subject was – at the time – my magnum opus. The WordPress file that it was written in was revised exactly 36 times before being published. I’d spent all day looking at Basketball-Reference pages and arranging a grand timeline of GoDaddy-related basketball disasters. I felt like the Raptors’ fanbase wasn’t seeing the big picture, and my text was the Lasik surgery to make everything whole. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make the splash I expected to. There were some believers, but some didn’t take me seriously.
Looking back, I can understand why. After watching CJ Miles (the curse’s current victim) shoot just 1-9 against the Orlando Magic last week, I decided to revisit my first piece. Upon doing so, I realized that there was a very glaring flaw nestled deeply in the fabric of my entire argument.
The problem is this: I never tried to explain. I never painted any kind of real, tangible link between GoDaddy ads and poor basketball performance. I only presented a correlation, and I never provided that correlation with any real-life reason to exist. For some people, the mountain of statistical evidence is irrelevant. It’s just coincidence. Just an odd result of this crazy simulation.
Honestly; I’m one of those people, so I can totally understand that perspective. Contrary to all the tongue-in-cheek lines in the first article, I don’t actually believe there is some cosmic link between GoDaddy and Toronto Raptors’ basketball. But I do believe in the GoDaddy Curse. If you keep on reading, well – I think you will too.
Quick reminder: What is the curse, anyways?
It’s simple: whichever Raptor is currently starring in a GoDaddy commercial becomes worse at basketball.
These commercials began two years ago, and in that time, five players have made appearances. Jonas Valanciunas, Lucas Nogueira, Patrick Patterson, Norman Powell, and now CJ Miles have all shown symptoms while their respective commercials were airing.
The struggles appear to have gotten progressively more intense with each new victim. My first article was published just eight games into the current season – at which point, Miles was averaging a brutal 5 points on 31.7 FG% and 23.1 3P%. I pointed out that there were only six other eight game stretches in CJ’s entire career where he’d shot the ball that poorly on a similar volume.
CJ Miles has now participated (I use that term loosely) in 31 games this year. He is averaging 4.9 points on 30.2 FG% and 27.1 3P%. This has long since become the greatest shooting slump of his career. I dare you to find a more astonishing drop-off from any tenured, proven shooter in league history. You won’t.
So, why is this happening?
The GoDaddy Curse is real because we made it real
Is there some witch hidden in the basement of GoDaddy’s headquarters using voodoo dolls to wreak havoc on Raptors basketball? Probably not.
No, I believe the curse was spoken into existence. I believe it’s entirely psychological. The victims are being cursed because they’re being told that they’re cursed.
Let me explain.
If I’m going to assert that the GoDaddy Curse only has power because of all the people talking about it, then I first need to know when the term was coined. Unfortunately, it can be really hard to track down the true birth of a phrase on social media.
Still, random ass old tweets might be helpful.
Norman Powell exercised that GoDaddy curse
— KLAW szn (@Nineteenx99) November 26, 2017
This tweet makes it clear that the GoDaddy Curse was already a well-founded fan theory before December, 2017 – which is pretty early on in the 2017-2018 season. We already know that the idea of the curse can’t have started any earlier than April, 2017, because it was at that time that all of the initial curse-bearers (Valanciunas, Patterson, and Nogueira) began playing poorly. So, we’ve already narrowed down the curse’s origin as sometime between April-December, 2017.
Combine that last tweet with this post from the Toronto Raptors Facebook page posted in July, 2017, where they announce Powell’s GoDaddy debut. The post has 136 comments – and not one mention of a curse. This means that the initial use of the phrase “GoDaddy Curse” online must have happened sometime in early November or late October of 2017, likely as a response to Powell’s early-season slump.
What does this mean?
According to my proposed theory, it means that none of Jonas Valanciunas, Patrick Patterson or Lucas Nogueira were affected by the curse. It means that Norman Powell and CJ Miles are the two true curse-bearers.
This actually makes a lot of sense. It never really sat right with me that Valanciunas’ struggles didn’t begin until about three months after the Itty Bitty Ballers commercials first started airing. Not to mention how small of a sample size it was. And while Patterson was spectacularly bad during his stretch on Itty Bitty Ballers, he was already well-known to be a very streaky shooter. It’s very conceivable that their struggles were just coincidence.
Powell and Miles, though? Their struggles began immediately after their GoDaddy ads. And their issues, purely from a basketball standpoint, have been inexplicable. It’s horrible to watch. Norm, who’d earned his 42$ million contract through two-way hustle and fantastic slashing ability, was bricking open layups. CJ, a savvy 14-year veteran sharpshooter, is bricking everything.
You want to know what makes this even crazier? Just look at what Norman Powell’s been doing ever since his commercials stopped. His percentages are way up, and he’s spent the last couple of weeks making a bull-rush back into the rotation. He’s starting to look way too good to be at the end of the bench. His minutes are steadily rising. And those minutes, they can’t be conjured up out of thin air. He has to have stolen them from someone. And he did. He stole them from CJ Miles.
I can’t make this kind of stuff up.
Explaining the psychological component
This is the part that I promised I would get to.
But, before I can establish any kind of psychological link between the idea of the GoDaddy Curse and Norm/CJ’s poor performances, I need to be certain that they’ve been told about it in the first place. How can the curse have been spoken into existence if they’ve never heard it spoken?
That could be tough to prove. I’d assume that Norm must have heard about it at some point, but assumptions don’t always hold up in court. The fact that the GoDaddy Curse has been talked about ad nauseum on social media is not enough evidence to prove that he’d actually heard about it.
That’s why the final portion of this article is going to center around CJ Miles. Because we know he knows.
Entering CJ’s mind
I’ll be honest. I’ve been sitting on this article for a bit. I really wanted to get this last part right. I was going to use all the GoDaddy-related tweets that have been directed at CJ’s wife as proof that he’s heard about the curse. But that still didn’t feel like it was proof enough. I didn’t know what I was going to do until yesterday, when CJ finally acknowledged the curse himself in a comment on Instagram
Now, let me be clear: do I think CJ Miles is mentally weak? Absolutely not. Do I think he believes in the GoDaddy Curse? No. Do I think he occasionally thinks about what people are saying about him online? Yes, he’s human.
That said, I still don’t think your typical online hate mail is enough to cause the kind of funk that CJ is finding himself in. No, there’s something very different about what’s happening to him right now.
Think about it. Imagine you’re a 31 year-old who’s played basketball (curse-free) for over two decades. You’ve worked your way up the global ranks, been through all the possible ups and downs, and have totally settled in to your role within the sport. Then you do this one, seemingly harmless commercial, and suddenly everyone is telling you “Man, you’re fucked”.
Curse-this; curse-that. You’ve never experienced anything like this.
What is your mental state going to be like when you then string together a few bad games?
I don’t mean to make it sound like CJ is having some Bandersnatch-ian mental breakdown. He isn’t (or at least I hope he isn’t).
It’s more like he’s trying to go to sleep with a small, but disruptive pebble under his pillow. Just barely uncomfortable enough to throw off his natural rhythm. And rhythm, as everyone knows, is so extremely important for a shooter like CJ.
Plus, all of this negative feedback online – combined with his poor play – has to have eroded CJ’s confidence. This means he’s likely entering games with the mindset that he needs to prove everyone wrong; prove he’s not washed up; prove that the GoDaddy Curse isn’t real. This isn’t a good mindset to have. You want to know how I know that’s true? Because I’ve witnessed the #ProveEm Raptors have the exact same mental collapse against LeBron James in the playoffs multiple times.
A confident man has nothing to prove. He believes in himself. You might even say he bets on himself.
CJ, please stop the commercials
This is my plea to CJ, Masai, and all of MLSE. Please stop the GoDaddy commercials.
I really never needed 1633 words to prove that the GoDaddy Curse is real; it’s real because it exists. It exists as an idea. And ideas can be very powerful – every idea we think up has some tangible effect on our brain’s chemistry.
Whether you agree with me or not, you can’t deny that the GoDaddy Curse is a distraction. It’s a totally needless distraction. It’s long past time to get rid of it.