Some people like to play like their favorite NBA players, but Brandon Armstrong has found a way to take it a step farther.
Better known to his fans as “BdotAdot,” Armstrong has been setting Twitter and Vine on fire for several months with his hilarious NBA impersonations. He’s flawlessly imitated the mannerisms and celebrations of superstars like Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, James Harden and Tim Duncan and he’s constantly adding to the list.
Before he was doing impersonations of your favorite NBA players, Armstrong was playing overseas in Spain and in the NBA Development League. A talented comedian, Armstrong also happens to be a standout basketball player in his own right. He’s been able to consistently create viral video content by merging his two talents. After receiving positive feedback from numerous NBA players, Armstrong has earned praise from ESPN and even made a SportsNation appearance.
EBONY spoke with Bdot about his creative process, his favorite NBA players to mimic, and his plans on dominating the entertainment industry.
EBONY: What's your basketball background? When did you start playing?
BA: I’ve been playing basketball since I was younger. I played throughout high school. I started playing in college in 2008 at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. I played there all four years. Then, I played in the NBA D-League with the Reno Bighorns for a brief stint. From there, I played over in Madrid –Fuenlabrada—probably about 15 minutes outside of Madrid. Then, I played a little bit in Australia after that season.
EBONY: So you’ve been all over.
BA: A little bit. Yeah.
EBONY: How was your experience in the D-League?
BA: It was a really great experience. Like I said, it was right after college. I came in as a rookie, very young and un-experienced. I learned a lot, especially from my teammates and the coaching staff. I learned a lot about the professional game. It was my first time as a grown man playing professional basketball. It was a great experience. I’m glad I did it.
EBONY: What made you want to start making videos? Did you notice a lack of people on YouTube and Vine making funny basketball-specific videos?
BA: I’ve always made videos. I started off on Vine. I was “Vine famous.” I had a whole bunch of comedy skits that were non-sports related while I was playing basketball. I’ve always been on the social media scene. Then, I crossed over from there to Instagram when they got videos. Then I just went from there. I’ve done all types of comedy skits, whether they’re sports or “females be like” or “dudes be like” etc. Watching last year’s NBA playoffs, I started imitated imitating some of the plays that happened like how LeBron travels or how Derrick Rose doesn’t have any facial expression when he hits a game-winning shot. People liked it. My following liked it, so I continued the basketball videos.
EBONY: What's your thought process like when you make a video? How do you pick which players to mimic?
BA: It’s basically whatever player comes to me. Who are some of my favorite players? Who are some of the players that have expressions that I can mimic that really stand out? Who has certain things they do that, not only hoopers, but sports fans, in general, know about. That’s my thought process.
EBONY: How long does it take you to come up with the ideas for each video? How long do they take to make?
BA: It takes about 7 to 10 minutes to record everything. I already have everything that I need in my head and then I tell my manager to keep recording. It’s all about getting the perfect angles and positioning myself and the people on the court with me.
EBONY: What's your goal with the videos? How far do you see it going? You already made it to ESPN. Where else do you want to take it?
BA: I just want to be the top entertainer in the business. Whether that’s on the basketball court, off the basketball court, on a movie screen, on someone’s television, or on someone’s stage. The end goal is to be the top entertainer in the business and that’s in all aspects of entertainment.
EBONY: I know Russell Westbrook shared your video on Twitter. Javale McGee didn't seem too impressed by your impersonation on SportsNation. What's the feedback been like from NBA players you've impersonated?
BA: The feedback has been great. I’ve got a lot of following from a lot of NBA players. Tony Allen laughed at the video. He loved it. Javale McGee actually liked the video. I think he was a bit under the influence on SportsNation. (Laughs) It didn’t register that quickly for him. Kobe he tweeted me and said it was hilarious. He liked the video. I get a lot of feedback. The NBA players know that I’m not making fun of them, besides the Javale McGee video. (Laughs) They know it’s a matter of respect. It’s all fun and games. The NBA community has given me great feedback. It’s been nothing but positive and great remarks.
EBONY: Who's your favorite player to imitate?
BA: It had to be Westbrook just because he’s my favorite player, in general, him and Stephen Curry. His video was pretty fun to make, just because he’s my favorite player. I study his game and his emotions and the heart he plays with. It was pretty awesome. I have to say Westbrook.
EBONY: What's your favorite video that you've done so far? Which was the most fun to make?
BA: I had fun making the Joey Crawford video, the most recent one I dropped. I think that was fun and the James Harden one, because I had to actually study his film to see which foot he stepped back with and how many dribbles are in his signature move. That was the most fun one and required a little homework.
EBONY: As someone who's been playing basketball since I was a kid, I find myself relating to a lot of your videos, which makes them funnier to me. For example, I understood the skit about thinking your coach is about to put you in but then he doesn't, so you have to play it off. I also related to the one about how no one wants comes out of the game. You start doing all types of stuff to stay in when you see someone is about to sub in for you. With that in mind, would you say your target audience is basketball players or is it broader than that?
BA: It’s just something that hoopers can relate to. Even people that don’t play basketball –they might play pickup or some rec league games– I think they’ll still understand it. It’s something I’ve been going through my whole life. They’re different basketball moments that I just put a comical twist on.