Quentin Grimes was leaning on his kitchen island, eating omelette chips and moving around TikTok. It was October 2020 and he was a couple of months away from starting his youth men’s basketball season at the University of Houston. On his TikTok channel, he found video after video of people imitating dolphins and colliding their bodies with friends and strangers. Grimes couldn’t stop laughing, so he decided to jump at the end of the trend.
He downloaded the audio track from the app, tilted his iPhone against a toaster, and had it recorded. While he was still biting a chip, he raised his hands 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 forward twice more, laughing as he fell out of the camera frame. The whole video lasted six seconds.
He didn’t think about it until he went to bed that night and reopened the app. In a few hours, the video had played more than 100,000 times. The next day, the figure was over half a million and Grimes had gained 20,000 followers. It was only the ninth video he had posted to his account, but he was convinced that the app was where he could share the fun side of himself that basketball fans rarely saw on the court.
“As an athlete, you want to be known for something beyond your sport,” Grimes, 21, said as he slid his iPhone 13 during an interview at his White Plains, NY apartment. “Basketball, basketball. You don’t want this to be your whole life. I think the fans want to see you as a real person.”
The Knicks acquired Grimes on a nightly deal in 2021, about nine months after their dolphin video was introduced to a constantly expanding TikTok audience to their extraordinary, playful personality. This charisma, as well as his penchant for the irreverent, have helped him garner more than 100,000 followers on the increasingly influential social media app, a count that only haunts Josh Giddey (515,000) and Jalen Green (326,000). among the NBA draft class 2021.. As a league, the NBA has quickly embraced TikTok, and its official account has nearly twice as many fans in the country’s most popular sports league, the NFL. New York, will be willing to benefit from its growing follow-up. But for now, it’s more about that for LOL.
“I keep the bushes for people coming to the Garden,” he said. “At TikTok, I’m just trying to make people smile.”
Grimes took a tortuous path to play for the Knicks. A native of Texas, he was a consensual 5-star recruit in the 2018 class and joined Kansas as an alleged single player. But after a disappointing first year, he moved to Houston to be closer to home. As a sophomore, he helped Houston win its second consecutive conference championship and advance to 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 launched his TikTok account. His first post was subtitled: “Boreddddddd!”
As a junior, Grimes guided Houston to his first Final Four from the Phi Slama Jama teams of the early 1980s. That April, he declared himself for the draft, but was projected as a second-round pick until a outstanding performance to the draft combination. In July, the Los Angeles Clippers selected him with the No. 25 pick on behalf of the Knicks, who had received the draft in a change. That night, he posted a TikTok titled, “NEW YORK WHAT’S GOOD!” It received almost 500,000 views and nearly 1,500 comments.
When Ben Perkins, the former Grimes AAU coach and longtime coach, saw the video circulating on social media, Grimes had a bad time. “In basketball, I rarely congratulate him. I like to push and encourage him,” Perkins said. “The first thing I said when I saw the video was, ‘Come on, man! Who wants to look at you so much? But it’s so funny. It’s like his alter ego. If you only know him as a killer on the track, it ‘s a chance to see his silly side. “
Most Grimes publications involve him dancing, usually in a hotel room or bathroom. Although he only posts a few times a month, he says he spends up to three hours a day on the app and sends and receives hundreds of memes every day. If you see a trend often enough, try it. If he gets more than a few prey, he abandons her. In Houston, he regularly included his teammates in his TikToks, but as an NBA debutant this season, he thought it best not to ask his veteran teammates for cameos.
At the start of the season, the 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 was impressing the Knicks coaches with his effort in training, his commitment to studying his defensive work and the energy he showed even in the minutes of garbage. Grimes started his first outing in December, when the team was without RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin and Alec Burks. He put on Franchise rookie record with seven triples. That party’s T-shirt hangs from a chair in his kitchen, waiting to be framed.
“My attitude was,‘ If I only get to the court at the last minute, then my goal is to play 110 percent in that minute, ’” Grimes said. “In a minute, you can still get a great stop or a big bucket. The coaches take note of all that. Even if you come in eight seconds on defense, how you play is important. That was my early role. I was told: ‘Go watch Jimmy Butler,’ and I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to do it.’ “
From Christmas until the All-Star break, he averaged more than 23 minutes per game and made five more starts. His toughness impressed even his notoriously abrupt head coach. “I love Grimes. I love Grimes,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after a January practice. “He’s a fierce competitor, he can shoot the ball, he can protect several positions and he’ll just get better.”
In February, Grimes partially dislocated his right knee when trying to avoid a screen in the first quarter of a game against Miami. He couldn’t dare look at the kneecap, drifting beside his leg — the thought of it even made him tremble a month later — but he breathed a sigh of relief when he learned that the injury would not be. be a career change. The only lasting disappointment was that it cost him the opportunity to play on the same court on the same day as his half-brother, Tyler Myers, a Vancouver Canucks veteran defense. He returned to the court less than a month later, but has taken it slowly as the Knicks season ends without a place in the playoffs.
It has also slowed down its release during its recovery. But that doesn’t mean you spend 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 the pillow. “It’s just me and the screen brightness, scrolling and scrolling,” he said. “You get hooked” – he snaps his fingers – “com that! And then you have to go to bed even if you’re not tired. “
With his debut season almost behind him, Grimes has big plans for his future in New York: on the track and online. He said he wants to make more videos next season with Barrett and Cam Reddish, whom he has known since they were high school sophomores. And of course, he hopes that, as a healthy group, they can help guide the Knicks back into the postseason. “Next year,” he said, “people will really see what we can do.”