03/19/2015 11:30 EDT

Harper Mocked After Tweet Misidentifies Canadian NBA Player As Kyle Lowry

A social media airball from the prime minister could serve as something of a cautionary tale about what can happen these days when politicians get it wrong online.

On Wednesday, the official Twitter account of Prime Minister Stephen Harper posted a photo of him with Canadian NBAers Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, two former number one draft picks who both play for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Harper was in Toronto to see the Raptors take on Minnesota in what was billed as "Canada Basketball Night" at the Air Canada Centre.

But the prime minister's tweet misidentified Bennett as Raptors star Kyle Lowry, an American point guard who is arguably the most popular sports star in Canada's biggest city.

Naturally, many basketball fans had a good laugh at the flub.

The tweet was deleted and replaced with one correctly identifying Bennett, with some suggesting online that a staffer in the Prime Minister's Office was likely in Harper's bad books.

But as Canadians head toward a federal election in which what is posted to Facebook and Twitter will attract more attention than ever before, the gaffe shows how easily things can go off the rails.

Here are three ways the Twitter flub complicated things for Harper.

1) It Exposed An Inconsistency

Back in January, Harper won praise for encouraging his Twitter followers to support Lowry in the NBA’s online all-star voting.

His appeal for Canadian basketball fans to "get behind" the Raptors star was re-tweeted more than 5,500 times — with each counting as a vote for Lowry.

Many Canadian news outlets picked up the story of a prime minister lending his high-profile support to an athlete, but USA Today and International Business Times also got a kick out of it.

USA Today's Nate Scott called it "a very nice gesture by the most powerful political voice in Canadian government."

Lowry was eventually voted a starter in the all-star game.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Darron Cummings

2) It Resulted In Some Not-So-Flattering Headlines

Harper's incorrect tweet did not go unnoticed by sports journalists Wednesday night.

The Toronto Star, The Canadian Press, and Yahoo! Canada Sports were among the first to write about the mistake.

Popular American sports site SBNation also pitched in with a story, headlined: "Hey, Canada prime minister, that Canadian basketball guy is not Kyle Lowry."

3) It Sparked Some Mockery Online

It also didn't take long for Canadians to poke fun at Harper's expense, with some taking to Twitter to share other times in which the prime minister may have been confused by who he was meeting.


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