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Knicks Rookie Quentin Grimes Can’t Stop Scrolling, Either

Quentin Grimes was hunched over his kitchen island, munching on tortilla chips and scrolling through TikTok. It was October 2020 and he was months away from starting his junior men’s basketball season at the University of Houston. On his TikTok feed, he encountered video after video of people impersonating dolphins and bumping their bodies against friends and strangers. Grimes couldn’t stop laughing, so he decided to take the plunge into the trend.

He downloaded the audio track from the app, tilted his iPhone against a toaster oven, and hit a record. As he nibbled on another chip, he stretched his hands out in front of him, arched his back, and jumped in sync with the sound of a gunshot. When two more shots of the song sounded, he jumped up twice more, laughing as he fell out of the camera frame. The entire video lasted six seconds.

He didn’t think about it again until he went to bed that night and opened the app again. Within hours, the video was streamed over 100,000 times. The next day the number was over half a million and Grimes had gained 20,000 subscribers. It was only the ninth video he had posted on his account, but it convinced him that the app was the place where he could share the fun side of himself that basketball fans had. rarely get to see on the ground.

“As an athlete, you want to be known for something other than your sport,” Grimes, 21, said while swiping on her iPhone 13 during an interview at her apartment in White Plains, NY. just post basketball, basketball, basketball. You don’t want it to be your whole life. I think the fans want to see you as a real person.

The Knicks acquired Grimes in a draft deal in 2021, some nine months after his dolphin video introduced an ever-expanding TikTok audience to his quirky and playful personality. That charisma, along with his penchant for the irreverent, has helped him amass more than 100,000 followers on the increasingly influential social media app, a tally that trails only Josh Giddey (515,000) and Jalen Green (326,000) among the 2021 NBA Draft class. As a league, the NBA was quick to embrace TikTok, and its official account has nearly double the followers of the nation’s most popular sports league, the NFL As Grimes’ career progresses in a major market like New York, it will be ready to take advantage of its growing audience. But for now, he’s more for the LOLs.

“I save the dunks for people who come to the Garden,” he said. “On TikTok, I just try to make people smile.”

Grimes took a circuitous route to playing for the Knicks. A native of Texas, he was a consensus 5-star recruit in the Class of 2018 and joined Kansas as the only presumed player. But after a disappointing first year, he was transferred to Houston to be closer to home. As a sophomore, he helped Houston win its second straight conference championship and move into the Associated Press Top 25 with a 23-8 record. Twelve days after the NCAA announced it was canceling the 2020 men’s basketball tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic, Grimes opened his TikTok account. His first post was captioned: “Boreddddddd!

As a junior, Grimes guided Houston to its first Final Four since the Phi Slama Jama teams of the early 1980s. In April, he declared for the draft, but was projected as a second-round pick until what a outstanding performance to the combine harvester project. In July, the Los Angeles Clippers selected him with the No. 25 pick on behalf of the Knicks, who had received the draft spot in a trade. That night, he posted a TikTok with the caption, “NEW YORK HOW GOOD!” It received nearly 500,000 views and nearly 1,500 comments.

When former AAU coach and longtime Grimes coach Ben Perkins saw the video making the rounds on social media, he gave Grimes a hard time. “In basketball, I rarely compliment him. I like pushing it and pushing it,” Perkins said. “The first thing I said when I saw the video was, ‘Come on, man! Who wants to watch you that much? But it’s really fun. It’s like his alter ego. If you don’t know him that as a killer in the field, it’s a chance to see his stupid side.

Most of Grimes’ posts involve him dancing, usually in a hotel room or bathroom. Although he only posts a few times a month, he said he spends up to three hours a day on the app and sends and receives hundreds of memes every day. If he sees a trend enough times, he tries it. If it takes him more than a few takes, he abandons it. In Houston, he regularly included his teammates in his TikToks, but as an NBA rookie this season, he thought it would be better not to ask his veteran teammates for cameos.

At the start of the season, Knicks fans saw him more on social media than on the field – he didn’t appear in 12 of the team’s first 16 games. But between those games, he impressed Knicks coaches with his effort in practices, his commitment to studying his defensive assignments, and the energy he showed even in waste minutes. Grimes got his first start in December, when the team was without RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin and Alec Burks. He fixed a franchise rookie record with seven 3-pointers. The jersey for this game hangs on a chair in his kitchen, waiting to be framed.

“My attitude was, ‘If I only step onto the court for the last minute, then my goal is to play 110 per cent in that minute,'” Grimes said. “In a minute you can always get a big save or a big bucket. The coaches take note of all this. Even if you go in for eight seconds on defense, how you play matters. It was my role at the beginning. They were like, ‘Go watch Jimmy Butler,’ and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to do this. » »

From Christmas to All-Star Break, he averaged over 23 minutes per game and had five more starts. His tenacity impressed even his notoriously gruff head coach. “I love Grimes. I love Grimes,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after practice in January. will only get better.”

In February, Grimes partially dislocated his right kneecap while trying to get around a screen in the first quarter of a game against Miami. He couldn’t bring himself to look at the patella, drifting down the side of his leg – even thinking about it a month later sent shivers down his spine – but he breathed a big sigh of relief when he learned that the injury wouldn’t. change career. The only lasting disappointment is that it cost him the chance to play in the same arena on the same day as his half-brother, Tyler Myers, a veteran Vancouver Canucks defenseman. He returned to the field less than a month later, but slowed as the Knicks’ season ended without a playoff spot.

He also slowed down his assignment while recovering. But that doesn’t mean he’s spending less time on social media. Every night, after taking a shower and turning off all the lights in his apartment, he puts his phone in his hand and his head on his pillow. “It’s just me and the screen brightness, scrolling and scrolling,” he said. “You’re getting addicted” – he snaps his fingers – “like this! And then you have to force yourself to fall asleep even if you’re not tired.

With his rookie season almost behind him, Grimes has big plans for his future in New York – on the court and online. He said he wanted to do more videos next season with Barrett and Cam Reddish, whom he’s known since they were sophomores in high school. And, of course, he hopes that, as a healthy group, they can help bring the Knicks back to the playoffs. “Next year,” he said, “people are really going to see what we can do.”

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