Quentin Grimes leaned on his kitchen island, snacking on tortilla chips and scrolling through TikTok. It was October 2020, and he was still a few months away from starting his junior season in men’s basketball at the University of Houston. In his TikTok feed, he came across video after video of people imitating dolphins and smashing their bodies into friends and strangers. Grimes couldn’t stop laughing, so he decided to jump on the deep end of fashion.
He downloaded the audio track from the app, tilted his iPhone in the toaster oven and hit the record. While he was still rummaging through a chip, he stretched out his hands in front of her, arched his back and jumped simultaneously at the sound of the gun. When two more shots rang out from the song, he jumped forward twice more, laughing as he fell from the camera frame. The entire video lasted six seconds.
He didn’t think of anything else about it until he fell asleep that night and reopened the app. Within hours, the video was streamed more than 100,000 times. The next day, the number exceeded half a million, and Grimes gained 20,000 followers. 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 part of himself that is rarely seen by basketball fans on the court.
“As an athlete, you want to be known for something other than your sport,” Grimes, 21, said while swiping his iPhone 13 during an interview at his apartment in White Plains, NY “You don’t just want to post. basketball, basketball, basketball. You don’t want that to be your whole life. I think the fans want to see you as a real person. “
The Knicks acquired Grimes on a draft-night deal in 2021, about nine months after his dolphin video introduced the ever-growing TikTok audience to his offbeat, playful personality. That charisma, as well as his penchant for the irreverent, has helped him gather more than 100,000 followers on the increasingly influential social media app, a number that only tracks Josh Giddey (515,000) and Jalen Green ( 326,000) in the 2021 NBA draft class. As a league, the NBA quickly adopted TikTok, and its official account is nearly double that of the followers of the nation’s most popular sports league, the NFL As Grimes ’career progressed in a major market such as New York, he may be willing to profit from his growing following. But for now, he’s more into LOLs.
“I keep dunks for people who go to the Garden,” he said. “At TikTok, I’m just trying to make people smile.”
Grimes took a circular path to play for the Knicks. A native of Texas, he was a consensus 5-star recruit in the Class of 2018 and joined Kansas as a believed one and became a player. But after a disappointing freshman year, he moved to Houston to be closer to home. As a sophomore, he helped Houston win a second consecutive conference championship and climbed to The Associated Press Top 25 with a 23-8 record. Twelve days after the NCAA announced the cancellation of the 2020 men’s basketball tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic, Grimes started his TikTok account. His first post was captioned: “Boreddddddd!”
As a junior, Grimes led Houston to the first Final Four since the Phi Slama Jama teams in the early 1980s. In April, he declared for the draft but was planned as a second-round pick until a outstanding performance in the draft combine. In July, he was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers at No. 25 picks for the Knicks, who received the draft slot in a trade. That night, he posted a TikTok with the caption: “NEW YORK WHAT’S GOOOOD!” It received nearly 500,000 views and nearly 1,500 comments.
When Ben Perkins, the former AAU coach and longtime coach of Grimes, saw the video circulating on social media, he gave Grimes a hard time. “In basketball, I rarely admire him. I like to push him and push him, ”Perkins said. “The first thing I said when I saw the video was: ‘Come on, man! Who wants you to look like this? ‘ But really fun. Like his alter ego. If you know him to be a murderer in court, this is a chance to see the crazy side of him. ”
Most of Grimes ’posts involve him dancing, usually in a hotel room or bathroom. Although she only posts a few times a month, she says she spends three hours a day on the app and sends and receives hundreds of memes per day. If he sees a single hour, he tries it. If it takes him more than a few picks, he’ll leave it. In Houston, he has always included his teammates in his TikToks, but as an NBA rookie this season, he thinks it’s best to refrain from soliciting cameos from his veteran teammates.
Earlier in the season, Knicks fans saw him more on social media than on the court – he didn’t appear in 12 of the team’s first 16 games. But between those games, he impressed the Knicks coaches with his effort in practices, his commitment to learning his defensive roles and the energy he showed even in waste time. Grimes got his first start in December, when the team didn’t have RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin and Alec Burks. He put a franchise rookie record with seven 3-pointers. The jersey from the game hung on a chair in his kitchen, waiting to be framed.
“My attitude was:‘ If I can only get on the court at the last minute, then my goal is to play 110 per cent of that minute, ’” Grimes said. “In a minute, you can still get a big stop or a big bucket. The coaches notice all of that. Even if you can get in within eight seconds on defense, how you play matters. That’s why I’ll have my paper early. They’ll say, ‘Go, watch Jimmy Butler,’ and I’ll say, ‘All right, I’ll do that.’ “
From Christmas to the All-Star break, he averaged more than 23 minutes per game and got five more starts. His toughness impressed even his famously fierce head coach. “I love Grimes. I love Grimes, ”Knicks Coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after a practice in January. “He’s a fierce competitor, can shoot the ball, can watch a lot of positions, and he’ll just get better.”
In February, Grimes partially dislocated his right knee when he tried to get around the screen in the first quarter of the game against Miami. She couldn’t help herself from looking at the bulge, which was drifting down the side of her leg – thinking about it even a month ago she was shaking – but she breathed a big sigh of relief when she realized that evil will not happen. change careers. The only lasting disappointment was that he spent the opportunity to play in the same arena on the same day with his paternal brother, Tyler Myers, a veteran defenseman of the Vancouver Canucks. He returned to the court less than a month ago, but he slowed it down because the Knicks season ended without a playoff spot.
He also slowed his posting during his recovery. But that doesn’t mean he spends very little on social media. Every night, after she takes a shower and turns off all the lights in her apartment, she puts her phone in her hand and her head on her pillow. “It’s just me and the screen light, scrolling and scrolling,” he said. “You’re hooked” – he squeezed his fingers – “like that! And then you force yourself to sleep even though you are 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 wants to make more videos next season with Barrett and Cam Reddish, whom he has known since they were sophomores in high school. And, of course, he hopes that as a healthy team, they can help drive the Knicks back into the postseason. “Next year,” he said, “people will really see what we can do.”