The armor protecting the one-woman industry that is Beyoncé is many layers thick. At the outermost layer, there’s the Beyhive, the armada of Beyoncé superfans; then there’s Yvette Noel-Schure, Beyoncé’s longtime publicist; and then there’s the artist herself, notoriously exacting over her public image (right down to declining interviews and getting to write her own cover stories).
But once in a while, those protective layers find themselves at odds. Earlier this week, Beyoncé’s fans took to social media over a viral video of Beyoncé sitting courtside at a basketball game between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors, in which she appeared to give the faintest side-eye at Nicole Curran, the wife of the Warriors owner Joe Lacob. The clip, originally posted to ESPN’s Twitter feed, swiftly became a meme, and the Beyhive set itself upon Curran for allegedly invading Beyoncé’s personal space when she leaned over to confer with the singer and business mogul’s husband, Jay-Z.
According to a series of tweets by the ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne, Curran disabled her Instagram account on Thursday morning because she had started to receive death threats—death threats—over the perceived slight in the video. “She had no idea anything was even amiss until she got home and started seeing texts from friends and checked her social media,” Shelburne wrote. Apparently, Curran had simply asked if the couple would like anything to drink. Beyoncé asked for water—easy enough—and Jay-Z for a vodka soda (a sorority girl at heart). Curran leaned in closer to hear his response, asking if he wanted a lime with that—what a good hostess. (This is all confirmed in the video; their lips are not difficult to read, knowing the context.) Thus the video. Shelburne went on to quote Curran in a subsequent tweet: “‘I’ve never experienced cyber bullying like this. I can’t believe our players go through this. That kids go through this.’”
Enter Noel-Schure, who attempted to set the record straight—as gently and lovingly as possible—via an Instagram post. “I am looking back today at the start of The OTRII tour, one year ago. It was a place of joy, unimaginable entertainment from two of the best performers in the world, and a place of love. Every single day on that tour I saw love,” she began. “Which is why I also want to speak here to the beautiful BeyHiVE. I know your love runs deep but that love has to be given to every human. It will bring no joy to the person you love so much if you spew hate in her name,” she went on. “We love you,” she concluded, adding three honeybee emojis. The actors Yvonne Orji, of Insecure, and Cynthia Erivo chimed in with their support in the comments. (We wonder, however, where the NBA was in all this; perhaps they could also ask the Beyhive to dial it back, like they did Drake.)
Whether or not Beyoncé intended to glance askance at Curran, the video makes a really good reaction GIF; the summer of basketball memes continues apace.