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There’s been a trend in sports—and especially in the NBA—over the last decade or so. It’s a slightly altered version of the #grindset-style LinkedIn mentality that’s infected the people you went to college with. If you’ve seen old classmates turn into corporate robots, constantly posting about how hard they work and how much capital they’ve accrued, you know what I’m talking about.
In basketball, it looks like the Phoenix Suns sharing a video of a team workout after a game. It also shows up every summer, when players go on Instagram and flaunt their new hot bod, sculpted by personal trainers and a renewed devotion to fitness.
Then there’s Washington Wizards guard Jordan Poole. This season, Poole has displayed a knack for going viral. Except, instead of it being for his shredded abs or tireless work ethic, it’s usually for being a huge goofball. We’re not even into December yet, and Poole has still managed to bless us with enough ridiculous plays to last the whole season. Basketball Twitter has roundly named him the league’s most unserious player—and we’re here to say that this is an unqualified good thing.
Poole is just 24 years old, only has three posts on his Instagram grid, already secured a championship with the Warriors, and is in the first season of a four-year, $128 million dollar contract that pays him a higher salary each year. The man has already won. He’s basically said as much, too. In an interview with The Ringer from October, Poole said, “My family is taken care of, my basketball legacy is taken care of with the ring. This is probably the first time in my life I’ll play basketball with no pressure. So that’s kind of how you look at it. But it’s a really good opportunity. It’s a cool opportunity, dope opportunity.”
Dope opportunity, indeed. It’s no secret that Poole’s chill-ass attitude conflicted with several Warriors, particularly Draymond Green, the player who arguably possesses the least amount of chill in the entire NBA. This bubbled over in training camp before last season, when Green famously socked Poole in the face, later explaining that his rage was caused by “dialogue that happened over the course of time” and “stuff you don’t say amongst men”. This culture clash was largely perceived as the reason why the Warriors—the organization months removed from giving him that nine-figure contract extension, mind you—traded him for the no-nonsense Chris Paul over the summer.
Andre Iguodala, one of Poole’s former Warrior teammates, said Poole’s attitude in Golden State featured some, “Why can’t I go out there and be free like them?” Now, as the ostensible best player on a rebuilding Wizards team, Poole has definitely been free. Like, so free. He’s the personification of the “Free Bird” guitar solo. The most recent viral clip from the ongoing Poole party showed him cook the Pistons’ Cade Cunningham with a pretty diabolical move, then just…stop playing? The bizarre hesitation allowed another defender to come over and block Poole’s shot, which most other players would have released a good two seconds sooner. It is an early contender for funniest moment of the NBA calendar thus far.
But despite the on-court hilarity that’s made for social media, Poole is still a very useful player! He’s a gifted shot maker with enough wiggle to send opponents toppling to the hardwood, as demonstrated above. He was also excellent during the Warriors’ 2022 title run, averaging 17 points per game on over 50% shooting. It’s just that for every thing he does that contributes to winning (like a Game 5 performance in the 2022 Finals that Iguodala admitted won the Warriors the game), he does something like this, demonstrating that he doesn’t fully understand the rules of basketball.
This is the type of stuff we love to see. Not every athlete can be addicted to the grind. Not every basketball player can have the Mamba Mentality. And not every team can be good. The Wizards are distinctly not good, sitting at 3-15, owners of the second-worst winning percentage in the NBA. That’s fine! There are teams like this every single year. And if you’re going to stink, the worst thing you can be is boring. Poole has ensured that DC residents, at the very least, will not be bored. Even if the Wiz finish with something like 15 wins and earn the first pick in next year’s draft—a very real possibility, by the way—we will always remember this team for being endlessly entertaining. Thank you, Jordan Poole.
Originally Appeared on GQ