Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert isn’t just an NBA All Star — he’s an Internet All Star too. The seven-foot two-inch baller gets digital culture and social media as well as any pro athlete.
For proof, look no further than #GangnamRoy, a YouTube video that’s gone viral this week. The clip shows Hibbert and his Area 55 fan club performing a flash mob dance to the Psy opus “Gangnam Style” for a gaggle of stunned shoppers at an Indianapolis mall. Hibbert was the driving force behind the stunt and has also successfully lobbied for a cameo appearance on Parks and Recreation and an internship at Adult Swim — both hits with denizens of the web. On Twitter, he’s arguably the NBA’s funniest, most engaging player and is currently on a quest to get Psy to tweet the #GangnamRoy video.
We caught up with Hibbert after practice this week to discuss his online domination. Read on to learn about how he came up in AOL chat rooms and has fostered unexpected Twitter connections, as well get his tips on proper “Gangnam Style” form.
Q&A With Roy Hibbert
Let’s start with the “Gangnam Style” flash mob. How’d that come about?
Area 55 is like my crew. We go to the movies, I’ve taken them to laser tag before and I always wanted to do a flash mob with them but never knew exactly what to do. Then I was on vacation in Cabo this summer. I go online and there’s this video with about 100 million views at the time — it’s a dance and it’s catchy. So I call Rob Laycock and Heather Denton from the Pacers organization to help make it happen. A dance team member, Tamara, said she was down too. I told Area 55 members they had to commit to showing up to at least two practices a week if they wanted to be a part of it. So during training camp, we had two-a-day practices then I’d come back at night to practice “Gangnam Style” with Area 55.
Was it hard to learn the dance?
I have two left feet, but it was fairly easy once I learned. I’ve seen lots of flash mobs of people on YouTube doing it wrong, but I wanted to make sure we got it right. It’s just one, one, one two. The song’s pretty fast though, so you have to get up to speed.
So there’s that video, and you’re possibly the best NBA player on Twitter. I’m just gonna come out and ask: How are you so good at the Internet? Did you spend a lot of time online as a kid?
Yeah. I’m not gonna lie. I used to be in AOL chat rooms a lot causing trouble back when you had dial-up modems. I’ve always liked to be social in a smart way. Basketball comes first to me but I also pride myself on being an approachable person online and offline, talking to people when I walk through the mall and stuff like that. I just tweet a lot of stuff I think is funny, whatever comes to mind. I think social media can be used to grow your brand, but it also lets people know what kind of person you are.
Despite your best efforts, though, Psy still hasn’t tweeted your #GangnamRoy video. What’s up with that?
I’m sure he gets like a million people tweeting him a day, so I have my Area 55 minions bothering him and spamming his timeline to try to get a response. My teammates love the video, but they don’t want me to keep blowing up their timelines. I don’t want to get too obsessive with Psy or anything like that, but I do want to get a response.
I hear you’re a big online gamer, too, especially Call of Duty. What are your other favorites and what’s your gaming setup like?
I don’t usually like to talk about this type of stuff, but I have a huge TV. I bought it just for Call of Duty. I have a special video game chair, too — it rocks back and forth and has built-in speakers. I’m actually going to the studios where they made the game when we play in L.A., to see how it was created.
I’m an only child and grew up in a bad neighborhood. My parents weren’t well-off, but they would save up to get me video games. Games were something I did because I couldn’t really go outside where bad things were going on. I have the fondest memories of Sega Genesis and actually just got an old school Sega and Sonic and am about to hook that up. I’m really excited for the new Assassin’s Creed, too.
So as the king of the NBA Internet, who do you most enjoy following online?
I’ve always loved Shaq. I follow him. First person I ever followed was Lady Gaga. I meet a lot of people through Twitter. I’ve watched every season of Battlestar Galactica and now I’m friends online with Edward James Olmos — who’d have thought that? Albie, the son from Real Housewives of New Jersey, we’re friends online, too. We’re planning to hang out when I play out there this year, have a big Italian feast and all that.
Sounds fun. Any last things you want to add?
If you could help get Psy to reply to me, that would be awesome.