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Coach Hangs Up His Twitter Fingers

A little bird told me . . . you Tweeted too much. (Simon Oxley/

Jim Larranaga retired from Twitter last week. It was probably the most gracious exit in the raucous, indiscreet, gaffe-ridden history of celebrity Twittering.

"This might be a good time to leave the twittering up to the real tweet masters," the George Mason basketball coach tweeted Aug. 23.

Truly, the microblog controversy that forced him out of the game was nothing, by current Twitter standards. Days earlier, Larranaga wrote: "There is nothing I like better than a dry bagel after a hard work out. LOL." It was an oblique reference to NCAA limits on the snacks that coaches can offer players -- nuts, fruits and bagels, but not cream cheese. Commentators quickly picked up on his tweet to heap mockery on the NCAA.

On our colleague Mike Wise's sports-talk radio show, Larranaga defended the NCAA policy, and said he regretted his tweet's echo effect: "I poked a little bit of fun, but it got out of hand." So he's backing out of the social-media craze that has become a minefield for less cautious public figures. Like best-selling novelist Alice Hoffman, who used Twitter this summer to vent about a review: "Roberta Silman in the Boston Globe is a moron," Hoffman wrote, before urging fans to call Silman and "Tell her what u think of snarky critics." Hoffman later apologized -- and shut down her account.

Or rock star Courtney Love, sued for libel by a designer whom Love allegedly called a drug addict and "nasty lying hosebag thief" on Twitter. Or Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), who tweeted, "Just landed in Baghdad" on what was supposed to be a secret congressional trip. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban took to Twitter to criticize some referee calls; he later said his mouthing-off drew him a $25,000 NBA fine.

Miami Heat star Michael Beasley caused alarm last month with tweets like "Feelin like it's not worth livin!!!!!!! I'm done." He also linked to a photo of his new tattoo, with some suspicious baggies in the background. Days later, he checked into rehab.

So all considering, Larranaga's got it under control, if he wants to chance it on Twitter again. From his last tweet: "As the Terminator said 'I'll be back' I just don't know when."

By The Reliable Source  |  September 2, 2009; 1:04 AM ET
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