“Honey, Shaka’s trending again!” I realize my brother has moved into a new phase of sports celebrity when his name—Shaka Smart—becomes a trending topic on Twitter, right alongside Rebecca Black. His name is being inserted into spam tweets from China (“ShakaSmart International IQ Test … Play Free Online”), and women are posting comments about … well, you know. A Tennessee Volunteers fan, whose team is in the market for a hot young coach, jokingly speculates on the fact that Shaka wore an “orange tie” against Purdue. (Actually, the tie was golden.) A confused Brazilian asks, in Twitter Portuguese, “Does anyone know what is Shaka Smart?” In his second year as the men’s basketball coach at Virginia Commonwealth University, Shaka has become “one of the most talked-about young coaches in the game,” sayeth the AP. This all happened very quickly. First, VCU beat USC in the NCAA Tournament’s “First Four.” Then the Rams demolished Georgetown. Two days later, Purdue met a similar fate, and VCU entered the Sweet 16 as a media darling. By this point, anything Shaka did or said was a newsworthy event. After the Purdue game, a Sports Illustrated writer reveled in a courtside hug between my brother and my mom. When I called mom to ask about it, she said she’d just gotten off the phone with the Washington Post. “The reporter was asking about his early character-building experiences,” she said.
more from our own, dear J.M. Tyree at Slate here.