This past weekend, online basketball comedy guy Maxisnicee (real name Maxim Peranidze) really stepped in it. Peranidze has amassed a large online following, one that includes actual NBA players, by being a talented impressionist. His whole shtick is "[Player X] be like," and while it can work as physical comedy, it does not work when the "being like" part hinges on an important cultural ritual.
For a video about the Brooklyn Nets, Peranidze pretended to burn sage during a shootaround to impersonate Kyrie Irving, who through his late mother is part Standing Rock Sioux. In case the video isn't blunt enough, the ever-helpful Max clarified in the comments, "I’m Burning Sage btw 🤣🤣."
Shortly after Peranidze's frequent collaborator Brandon Armstrong posted the video, Irving hopped in the comments and asked Peranidze not to "disrespect my ancestors or my Indigenous culture."
Did Maxim, fairly and respectfully called out, reflect on what Kyrie said, wise up, and learn his lesson? No. He used the response to challenge Irving to a boxing match.
This went on for a while:
This personality-driven corner of the internet economy, built primarily on YouTube and Instagram, can run forever on manufactured feuds and drama. If it grabs an audience, you can get paid well. It's good business for both parties when everyone is in on the joke, but the mechanism for manufacturing attention breaks down when someone like Max takes a positive response as permission to get too familiar. Irving was charitable in his criticism, and the hoops comedy moron ignored the message and took the acknowledgement as an opportunity to turn it into something that would get him even more attention.
Hours after doubling down, claiming that his "VID HAD NOTHING TO DO WIT MAKIN FUN OF HIS CULTURE," and reiterating an apparently long-held stance that Irving is a "top 3 niceest player ever," Peranidze issued a Notes App apology to Irving and "the world as a whole."
The clout, he says, got the best of him. A modern-day Icarus has met his sea.