From NBA impersonator to BigV star: The story of Brandon Armstrong aka @BDOTADOT5
You’ve seen his videos, you’ve seen his moves.
But there is a good chance that you’ve not heard the story of @BDOTADOT5.
For starters, his name is Brandon Armstrong. And he’s a pro-hooper.
Before Armstrong started the now famed comedy sports genre, he played four years at Lincoln Memorial University, battled away in the NBA D-League (now G-League), played in Spain and even spent time in Australia, trying to take the next step in his professional sporting endeavours.
Then, in 2015, he missed a flight and it changed his life.
“I was actually meant to be on a flight to head to the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and then EuroBasket, and it somehow happened that I missed my flight.” Armstrong said.
“The very next day I made that Westbrook video. It changed my whole life and I didn’t play a professional game in two and half, three years.”
That video was everywhere, from SportsCenter to being retweeted by Westbrook himself, it took over the internet and signalled a change of career focus for Armstrong.
“Man, like almost once every week I think goodness, if I didn’t do that video, I’d probably still be playing professional basketball somewhere, but I wouldn’t be who I am.” Armstrong said.
“It’s a blessing and [Westbrook] is who I try to channel when I play – just straight Westbrook mode.”
“[He was the first impersonation] because he’s my favourite player. I’m not as athletic as him, but in terms of just the will and determination, I love that and that’s the one thing I try to take from his game.”
Did Armstrong himself think the video was funny?
“I chuckled.” Armstrong admitted.
“I never really thought any of my videos were funny, maybe a couple here or there, but it’s like homework or you study for something and you know you did well, but you didn’t know how well you did.”
“With the Westbrook one, it was something new – I was always doing vines, I never did a sports related video, so when I did that I was like, ‘Oh I’m just going to post this’, and next thing you know it’s on ESPN and Westbrook retweeted it and I’m like ‘Okay, okay, let my try someone else, let me try James Harden, let me try Tim Duncan.’”
It’s fair to say the basketball world more than chuckled. He quickly became the talk of #NBATwitter and his social media channels exploded.
The world wanted more. And Armstrong provided the goods.
His Impersonations of James Harden, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, Rajon Rondo and Carmelo Anthony are some of his most watched videos.
Armstrong’s skills are no joke and the players themselves give him nothing but love.
“They love them – I haven’t gotten any negative remarks. I’m actually friends with all of them since starting these impersonations. A lot of them look forward to seeing themselves being mocked.” He said.
“One time I was doing an interview with DeMarcus Cousins and Rondo ran in and said ‘he did an impersonation of me, he didn’t do one of you yet, so haha’ and then ran out.”
Has Armstrong had any requests from the players themselves?
“I get a couple of requests here and there. Mo Williams asked one time.” Armstrong said.
Armstrong’s fame went to a whole new level when he took part in the Celebrity Game during NBA All Star weekend in 2017. It would be remiss to say he simply took part, he dominated – claiming MVP honours with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
“It was a blessing, it was so dope – just being around so many celebrities and NBA players that I grew up watching, being a nationally televised game, and to win MVP, it was surreal.” Armstrong said.
“The NBA celebrity game is not just for basketball eyes, it’s other celebrities like actors and actresses, so when people are able to see their favourite actor or actress, they’re like who’s this guy that’s doing so well?”
“It was dope to be able to display my talents to people who are not just basketball fans.”
He started a new wave for others to find their niche in the sports comedy genre.
“You just see everybody doing funny stuff relating to sports or basketball now. It’s dope. I’m not mad – there had to be a James Naismith, so I love it, I just love it.”
Having taken over the social media world, Armstrong craved a new challenge. He missed the game.
“I took about two and half years off and I missed it.” He said.
“I felt like, alright, I took over the social media world, I created a sports comedy genre that no one had done, so now it’s time to influence more people, by saying if you started with something and maybe something else came, you can still continue it.”
That is what brings the Atlanta native to Melbourne, Australia.
Armstrong is a member of the Melbourne University Black Angels in Division 1 of the Victorian basketball league; BigV.
Armstrong spoke about his decision to re-establish himself as a professional basketball player in Melbourne.
“When I left Australia four years ago, I said this was the city I wanted to come back to – whether it’s to play or just to visit. I was like, once I got financially stable, I was definitely going to come back.” He said.
“When I had the opportunity to play, it was between here or China, and I was like, I know China has more basketball fans, but Australia is more Americanised and this is the place I wanted to come back to.”
Having watched his videos, you’d be forgiven for assuming Armstrong’s game would be built around a show-time theme, but there’s far more substance than that.
He’s gritty, willing to do whatever the team needs and not surprisingly, full of energy.
Having suited up in seven games thus far, Armstrong is currently the team leader in points (18.57), equal-leader in rebounds (8.57) and second best in assists (3.43) per game.
“A lot of people didn’t know I played before, they just see me killing celebrity games and on social media.” Armstrong said of his BigV experience.
“There’s a lot of bad mouthing and trash talking, so of course I want to prove to them that it’s not a game, I still can go. And of course, on the court I get roughed up because I’m an American, I’m an import, but also because of who I am.”
“It’s fun. I’ve never gotten into so much stuff with players in my whole career, like I’m not an arguer, but it’s just something that has brought it out here.”
“I’m a very active player. I like to interact with the crowd, get them going, get my teammates going – I think I’m a personality that hasn’t touched an Australian basketball court ever.”
He’s enjoying the competition and is appreciative of Melbourne University for taking a chance on him.
“[The BigV] is a very good competition – if it wasn’t I’d be averaging 50.” He said. “There’s great teams and the competition level is even. It’s been an adjustment, but I’ve been able to make a smooth transition.”
“[Melbourne University] took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity. I’m giving it my all – my blood, sweat and tears.”
Everyone knows him as @BDOTADOT5: The NBA Impersonator, but make no mistake, Brandon Armstrong: The Pro-Baller, is a show worth watching too.