Turner, who in 36 minutes registered 11 points, six blocks, six rebounds, two assists and five fouls in the game, ignored the request.
When the fan re-sent it, Turner ignored it again. “Who is this guy?” he recalled thinking.
The third time provoked a response. Turner decided to play along, paying the fan his attention and a penny.
“I’ve had a lot of people talk their fair share of crap at me, whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. I have never seen anybody have the audacity to talk mess through Venmo, like, a financial app. So that was ridiculous to me. I thought it was hilarious,” Turner said during a news conference Saturday. The third request “kind of did it for me. I said: ‘You know what? I’ll play along a little bit.’ So I Venmo him a penny, a single penny. I said, ‘Here’s a penny for your thoughts.’ ”
The payment wasn’t well received.
“Hey @Original_Turner I don’t appreciate the Venmo after your performance against the bulls,” the fan tweeted Thursday.
Turner’s response exposed their tiff and his Venmo account. But instead of more restitution requests, he received a minor windfall as fans sent him pennies — and in some cases, much more.
“All those pennies [and] two cents in a matter of three or four hours added up to $230 just like that,” he said, adding that he and his friend decided to flip the small fortune into a fundraiser. He tweeted that he would match whatever he received and send it to help families affected by this week’s winter storm and subsequent power outages in Texas.
His business manager, Lavelt Page, told ESPN that Turner is targeting charitable organizations and five to 10 families to help with issues such as homelessness and water damage.
“I’m already at $12,235, and I’m going to match all those donations,” Turner said Saturday.
Later, the National Basketball Players Association joined the cause, also offering to match those donations until his impromptu fundraiser ends Sunday night.
Turner is from Bedford, Tex., a city between Dallas and Fort Worth. He told ESPN that his parents and other members of his immediate family were affected temporarily in Colleyville, which is just north of Bedford. He said they were fine Saturday.
“I’m not there right now — I don’t really know what it feels like,” Turner said.
“It just kind of hit home to me because those are my people, those are people that are going through a lot. I’ve spent a lot of time in San Antonio, I obviously went to the University of Texas down in Austin, I have a lot of family in Houston, so I know people are going through a lot, and I just wanted to do whatever I could to help.”