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Leave @JoshSmith alone: Mistaken identity in the Twitter age

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A few hours after the Detroit Pistons announced their decision to waive Josh Smith, I noticed a handful of folks tweeting at @JoshSmith. Knowing that Detroit's free agent bust wasn't on Twitter, I was intrigued: who was @JoshSmith?

Were folks confused by a parody or fan account? Or was some poor soul with the same name suddenly having his mentions blow up with fans (and the occasional reporter) attempting to recruit the recently unemployed power forward?

It took just one click to figure it out, which made scrolling through his mentions even funnier.

After a few minutes of Google sleuthing, I emailed Josh Smith, whom I now consider the "real" Josh Smith, since he's the only Josh Smith who can lay claim to the eponymous Twitter handle, with a few questions about his sudden popularity among confused basketball fans. As you can see with his answers below, he's generally amused by his accidental fame, even if he's not actually an NBA fan.

DBB: Let's get this straight for everyone out there who's confused: you're not the NBA player Josh Smith. So who are you? What would you like to be known for?

@JoshSmith: I build web and mobile apps for startups, and run a startup called CookAcademy with my wife Molly. Once each month I serve in California’s Army National Guard. Ultimately I’d like to have some large positive impact on the world (like teaching people how to cook) but don’t really care if I’m never personally known for it.

Do you think the other Josh Smith has ever been confused for you? Do you think you two have much in common?

I’d like to think that someone has mistakenly tweeted at him and then realized he’s not a white, 5’8" software developer. Do we have much in common? Sure. Both our names start with Josh and end with Smith. I think our shoe sizes are both even numbers. And together we’ve won a combined 1.0 NBA slam dunk contests!

Do you follow the NBA? If so, what's your favorite team?

I don’t. I grew up in a family where college football was a religion and we had a pretty pathetic local NBA team, so never got into it. But who doesn’t like playing as the Bulls in NBA Jam?

I see that you've been on Twitter since 2007 -- did you know there was an NBA player named Josh Smith when you signed up? How long did it take before people started confusing you with him?

I’d say it took ’til late 2010 or early 2011 for Twitter to hit a critical mass of people who blindly tweet @JoshSmith assuming it’s the same guy. When I signed up I had no idea who he was. Sorry, Josh.

What was your reaction when your Twitter mentions blew up today? And did the barrage of @replies kill your phone battery?

Mistaken tweets have been filling up my Twitter notifications feed for awhile, so I think I’ve developed a good filter by now. Every once in awhile I’ll @reply someone simply to troll them. Most just laugh, but an odd subset of people rage unbelievably hard about it.

When's the last time you even played basketball? (Without even knowing the answer, I'm guessing you could beat the other Josh Smith in a game of HORSE.)

I played winter basketball with some guys from my track and cross country teams. I was horrible. And my wife once tripped on her own hand in a basketball game. We play pickup games in a local park whenever we can overcome our own embarrassment, mostly due to the fact that I play like a disabled ballet dancer.

The other Josh Smith already has been linked to the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers. If you were offered a few hundred thousand dollars, which city would you choose?

Man, none of these are great options. Can I just go to the Knicks instead? It’s New York, and even I would probably be a decent trade for them at this point.

The other Josh Smith has seen his career nosedive the last couple of years. Do you have any advice for him?

Josh, if you haven’t already done so, you need to start diversifying your assets. And in the worst case scenario you can pretend you’re me on Twitter and maybe get away with being a software developer.