Los Angeles • Joe Ingles has become beloved in Utah for his attitude on the court, where, despite his mild-mannered looks, he’s unafraid to challenge anybody.
And now, media outlets around the NBA are asking: Is Ingles the best trash talker in the NBA? ESPN’s “The Jump” show, hosted by Rachel Nichols, asked Scottie Pippen and Tracy McGrady that question, and both agreed: “He really is. ... He backs it up!”
SBNation wrote “Joe Ingles is somehow the NBA’s best trash talker. Deadspin headlined a piece with “Joe Ingles Remains One Of The NBA’s Premier Trash Talkers.” The Sporting News, Bleacher Report, and Fox Sports all have similar articles.
But as Ingles revealed in an interview on The Woj Pod, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, he doesn’t do it to bring attention to himself.
“It became way more blown out of proportion than I ever thought me playing into the NBA would get to,” Ingles said.
The latest round of attention was triggered by two actions in Ingles’ outing against the Detroit Pistons on Monday night, first calling Blake Griffin a “flopper” after the latter drew an offensive foul on an Ingles push.
“He definitely flopped on that,” Ingles said. “That dude’s huge. He’s 260 and and I’m 220. He’s defined and there’s no way I’m going to make him fall over like that.”
And then at the end of the game, when Ingles hit the game-winning three from the corner, he immediately turned and waved to a fan who had been supporting the Pistons loudly throughout the night. (It later turned out that the front row conversationalist was actually a Lakers fan, who didn’t want to see his team get pushed out of playoff position by the Jazz’s win.)
“I can play the same way and talk to everyone in the arena, coach, other players, where it does make me laugh, but some guys get so rattled by it," Ingles said. "And then for the rest of the game they’re so worried about me, hitting me, pushing me, screening me, it ends up being an advantage to us.”
Paul George’s case in last year’s Oklahoma City series might be a good example. George started the series off hot, but by the time Game 6 rolled around, George’s five-point, 2-of-16 shooting performance ended up really hurting the Thunder’s chances of winning the series.
Ingles has always played this way, he said, though he says he had to stay more reserved in his first couple of seasons in the NBA. “If you went back in my first couple years, I definitely wouldn’t have been blowing kisses to people because I think I shot 8 percent my first year or two.”
Whether it’s because of his everyman persona or his trash-talking skillset on the court, Ingles says he hears from fans in person and online that think they could best him.
“Let’s be real," Ingles laughed. "I’ve got a receding hairline, I’m slow and I’m probably not the most jacked up with abs and all that, but I’m still going to beat you one-on-one. Settle down.”