Power couple Beyonce and Jay-Z, also known as Sean Carter, attended Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night, sitting in courtside seats. At one point, the woman to Bey's left leaned over her to chat with the singer's husband.
It's tough to make out the exchange, seen in an ESPN tweet that featured a 13-second video clip. The woman, Nicole Curran, is married to Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob, so the two sports fans may have been talking about the game or the increasingly heated rivalry between the Warriors and the Toronto Raptors, who would emerge the victors in Thursday's game. It's also possible that Curran was congratulating the rapper on his newly minted billionaire status.
But context was disregarded as the internet seized on the last few seconds of the clip: Beyonce's smile fades, and the singer appears to brush against Curran's shoulder while shifting in her seat. In the hands of social media users, the moment became a courtside drama about a mere mortal who audaciously invaded Beyonce's personal space. (Spoiler alert: The singer did not approve of this breach of royal protocol.)
In TMZ's version, Beyonce directed "epic side-eye" at Curran, whom Jezebel dubbed the singer's "latest enemy". "PSA: Do not Lean Over Beyonce," Vulture cautioned.
Some of the discourse referenced the last time that video footage of the couple led to speculation about Beyonce's reaction to those who would dare to wrong her (one tweet dubbed Curran "Becky with the good seats"). We know now that sometimes drama goes down when there's a billion dollars on an elevator. What happens if there's billions upon billions of dollars in a Bay Area sports arena?
Before we get to that, let us recall that Beyonce isn't the first celebrity to unwittingly turn a sporting event into a trending topic. The Game 3 moment took some pressure off rapper Drake, whose courtside antics have long been known to inspire memes and commentary.
The ribbing has gone both ways. According to TMZ, the Warriors warmed up for Wednesday's game with a playlist featuring Pusha T's The Story of Adidon, which famously takes aim at the Toronto native.
In March, a passionate public display of affection between actress Kate Beckinsale and comedian Pete Davidson at a New York Rangers game inspired a parade of memes and references to "tonsil hockey".
Poor Antoni Porowski, seated to their right, was cast as the couple's uncomfortable third-wheel. (The Queer Eye expert later clarified that his concerned expression had, in fact, been related to the hockey game.)
These courtside moments are usually in good fun (see: Larry David grimacing alongside rapper Nelly and The Hangover star Justin Bartha in a 2013 courtside snapshot or decades of Spike Lee pacing the sidelines of Madison Square Garden) that even people who don't understand sports can get in on. But Wednesday's moment took a rather ugly turn. The Beyhive (as the singer's aggressively loyal fanbase is known) descended upon Curran's Instagram account, leaving a bevy of bee emoji in the comments of her photos.
Curran responded to her critics on Thursday morning, posting a perfectly pleasant photo of her and Beyonce.
"We should all help and support each other," she reportedly wrote, before making her Instagram account private.
ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne tweeted on Thursday afternoon that she had spoken to Curran, who "was in tears" and reported receiving death threats over the courtside clip.
The ordeal speaks to the perils of internet vitriol and obsessive fandom, not to mention the risk of assuming the context of a conversation among three people. In a nod to good sportsmanship, we should all take the time to remember that it's just a game.