You may not know him by his name Brandon Armstrong, but you probably know him by his Twitter or Instagram handle BdotAdot5. Armstrong's popularity exploded last year with his spot on impressions of star NBA players such as Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, James Harden, and Tim Duncan.
Armstrong’s unique blend of basketball skills and comedic timing has helped the former D-Leaguer go from making YouTube videos in his driveway to being invited to the Jimmy Kimmel show, and most recently, getting the nod for this weekend's NBA Celebrity All-Star game.
Last year, Mo Williams, he DM'd me and was like "Aye man I need an impersonation." Then I responded saying "Alright man, but I'm going to need two courtside tickets for the NBA Finals." He then responded saying "I got you."
We had the chance to catch up with BdotAdot5 to get his thoughts on becoming a social media star, to almost being invited to sit courtside at last June's NBA finals, and what we can expect to see from him when he laces it up in New Orleans Friday night.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
So how did all the impersonations start? Was it something you've always done or did you just randomly decide to do it?
I've always done it, via college. Me and my friends would be in practice and I would say, "I'm going to be Mo Williams today" and he would be like, "I'm going to be J.R. Smith" and we would always do it for fun on the side and record funny videos of ourselves. Then one day I decided to upload it on my Instagram and Twitter account and it took off from there.
Who's been your favorite athlete to imitate so far?
Westbrook, most definitely. He's my favorite player and he was the one that started it all, so I have to definitely say Westbrook...and James Harden he's really fun to do also.
What about these players makes it fun to imitate them?
Well, for Westbrook it's his expression. James isn't as expressive as Westbrook. Russ is just a really fun character to do, he's just wild and free. But James has the Euro-Step—that everyone thinks is a travel—and his step-back. So that's probably why I like those players the best.
Have you gotten any feedback from any of the athletes you've impersonated?
Yes! It's been nothing but positive feedback from all of them; they all love it. I've become really good friends with almost everyone that I've impersonated, so it's become a dream come true. It's really surreal.
Has any other athletes reached out and asked you to do an impersonation of them?
Last year, Mo Williams, he DM'd me and was like "Aye man I need an impersonation." Then I responded saying "Alright man, but I'm going to need two courtside tickets for the NBA Finals." He then responded saying "I got you." I never got to do an impersonation of Mo, and they ended up making it to the NBA Finals and winning it. So that is definitely one that I do regret not doing.
Did you know that last year there was a petition that people created because they wanted to bring you to play in the 2016 NBA Celebrity All-Star Game?
Yeah I saw that! It was really cool and hilarious that people wanted to see me play. There were a lot of signatures and retweets also, so I guess it worked.
So how does it feel to finally be invited to play in the Celebrity All-Star Game?
It's an honor, it's a blessing to display my talents on such a big platform. I'm so excited to have the opportunity to be able to entertain and the opportunity to play in that game, which was something that I always watched as a little kid. I never imagined playing in the game because it was never my end goal. I've always wanted to play professional basketball when I was younger, and not be a celebrity, but hey, it all worked out.
Will you be impersonating any athletes while you play in the game?
Yeah, I definitely am! I'm going to play seriously, but I'm also going to give the fans what they want. Don't worry...you'll be able to see a little Harden and Westbrook there, and some Kobe and Tim Duncan. I'm also going to try and bring some tricks out of the bag.
Jason Williams and Baron Davis are the NBA Legends of the game, Can we expect any impersonations of them?
Yeah, you can expect some Jason Williams. He'll be on my team. And you can expect some Baron. I don't want to give any my secrets away.
Who are you most excited to go up against in the game?
Probably Baron, we're really good friends and we have a show that we are going to start shooting soon. He's going to be on the opposite team, so if I get the opportunity to dunk on Baron, that will be the highlight of the game.
Kevin Hart, for the first time in seven years is not on the roster, Do you think he will really sit out of the game?
I really hope he makes a surprise appearance. I'm a really big fan of Kevin Hart, and everyone last year said they really wanted me to go head to head against Kevin and take his MVP from him.
So what's your prediction for the game?
I think we'll win. I think we'll win by a good amount just because we have actual ballers on our team with Jason Williams, and my girl, Lindsay Whalen, from [the WNBA's] Minnesota [Lynx], and me. It'll be a good game but I think we are going to win. I'm also predicting that I'm going to win MVP, if Kevin Hart doesn't appear out of nowhere, I'm going for MVP [Laughs].