By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland forward J.J. Hickson apologized for his Valentine’s Day tweets about when to cut off contact with a woman, saying he was just joking around.
The Trail Blazers’ big man took to the social media site last week to post a series of tweets with the hashtag (hash)girlbye that he meant to be funny one-liners. But some of the stream drew criticism for being demeaning toward women. He also included a shout-out to strippers.
Hickson apologized to those he offended.
“I meant no harm in any way. I’m not that type of person to cause harm or commit harm to anyone,” he said. “It’s an opinion and everyone has one. It just matters what side of the fence you’re on.”
A spokesman for the Blazers said Wednesday that Hickson’s tweets were treated as an internal matter that has been addressed. The team has a Twitter policy which it reviews with the players.
Hickson is not the first person to say something considered objectionable on Twitter. But as a member of the Trail Blazers, he represents the team and the NBA. His Twitter profile says he plays for the Blazers.
“I think I represent the Trail Blazers great. When I tweet, I tweet outside basketball. Like I said, it’s my personal things I do and like I said, it’s an opinion,” he said. “I can do something good and a million people think it’s something good and one person thinks it’s wrong.”
Last Thursday, while the Blazers were on a six-game road trip before the All-Star break, Hickson fired off a few tweets that concluded with “(hash)girlbye.”
One example: “Your bag cost more than your rent … (hash)girlbye.” Others made sexual references, and they didn’t go over well with everyone.
He posted about strippers: “I know society (give) y’all a bad reputation. It’s good tho I don’t judge. I definitely respect y’all hustle.”
Hickson has more than 17,000 Twitter followers, and he’s been a popular player in trade rumors, too, as the deadline approaches Thursday.
The Blazers signed Hickson to a one-year deal worth a reported $4 million prior to this season. Because he has Bird rights, he has approval of any trade. He also gives up those rights if he agrees to any deal, which could impact the salary he could command in free agency.
“I’m just here controlling what I can control, playing the game of basketball. Off the court, things will take care of themselves like they always have in the past,” he said.
Hickson is in his fifth season in the NBA, with previous stops in Cleveland and Sacramento.
Hickson has certainly raised his stock with his performance this season. He’s averaging 12.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. He has 28 double-doubles, matching his career high career high. And he’s shot 50 percent or better from the floor for the last 17 games, a franchise record.
On Tuesday night he had 25 points and 16 rebounds in Portland’s 102-98 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
The Blazers (25-29) are mired in a six-game losing streak but still hoping for a playoff spot. Portland and the Los Angeles Lakers are 3½ games back of Houston for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference.