Even if you’re just a casual NBA fan, you’ve likely seen him on your Twitter timeline, or your Instagram feed. I’m of course talking about Lakers guard Alex Caruso, the internet’s favorite basketball player.
Every team has a cult hero, and Caruso is the Lakers’. But he belongs to more than just Los Angeles. Caruso is the champion of the people, and the internet is better for it.
Caruso’s become popular for a handful of reasons, but the main one has to be, honestly, that he doesn’t look like an NBA player. He’s a 25-year-old white guy who isn’t hiding the fact that he’s going bald. If Caruso showed up at your local open gym and nobody knew who he was, he’s probably getting picked to play. But he’s being told to grab rebounds, because he’s 6’5 and it looks like that’s pretty much all he’s going to be good for (those people are gravely mistaken).
It’s also apparently the inspiration behind two nicknames:
And Caruso seems pretty self-aware. He told Bleacher Report people like him for the following reasons:
“I think it’s the way I play — every game I go out there and play as hard as I can, and I think people appreciate that,” he says. “Then it’s the fact I look like I could be a common person walking on the street. They all want to hold onto like, ‘Hey, that’s one of us out there doing it,’ which is funny because I feel like I’m a normal person.
Caruso looks like he plays as hard as he can, because he looks the way that he does, if you catch my drift.
When he was playing in the Summer League in 2017, he had a pretty funny interview in which he pointed out the rarity of a white guy to white guy alley oop:
Caruso’s NBA career began with the Thunder’s G League team in 2016, and then signed with the Lakers in 2017 to a two way-contract. After showing he could make meaningful contributions on his two way deal, he agreed to a two-year deal worth $5.5 million this summer.
While his ceiling as a player in the NBA is in a very minor role, he’s definitely First-Team All-NBA Meme Team. Somebody made a mixtape of his highlights, and dubbed him the greatest player of all-time, because that’s the wave Caruso stans unapologetically stay on.
Alex Caruso Mix | Greatest Player of All Time pic.twitter.com/vnYpJ0CkYb— Sly Global (@sly_global) July 25, 2019
It’s also worth noting that Caruso’s legend is better because he’s on the Lakers. Caruso is not a very Los Angeles Looking Person, and is playing for one of the most prestigious franchises the league has to offer. If were doing this in say, Milwaukee, we wouldn’t care even half as much.
He was arguably the biggest highlight of the offseason trainer/open gym video season when a photoshopped image of him being ripped went viral, prompting the NBA to shoot him a random drug test.
They hit Caruso with a drug test pic.twitter.com/5OvV84S1Hh— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) September 3, 2019
While this adds to the legend of Caruso, it’s even more hilarious that the NBA was unable to tell that it was a photoshop. Caruso looks like he could play defensive end for the Rams in that edit.
If you look elsewhere, there’s just a bunch of memes about Caruso, and people gassing him up to no end. Here’s a couple good samples:
The NBA is scared for the Alex Caruso era pic.twitter.com/usoM0B4NXM— ALEX CARUSO OFFICIAL STAN ACCOUNT (@ACFRESH21STAN) October 22, 2019
“hey grant, what do you do in your free time?" pic.twitter.com/AHAnOB9oHX— Grant Goldberg (@GrantGoldberg) October 28, 2019
When the Lakers hosted the Jazz earlier this season, many joked that Rihanna was checking him out. And I mean, it kind of looks like she was?:
Rihanna ready to risk it all for Alex Caruso? pic.twitter.com/Xuja6Euil8— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) October 26, 2019
Regardless of whether or not Rihanna was or was not checking out our bouncy, gritty, hard-working phenom, even the mere possibility is going to be hyped up by fans. That’s just part of the Alex Caruso experience
When the Lakers played the Mavericks, Caruso laid down the hammer on Maxi Kleber, adding to his legend and ever-growing highlight reel of booming dunks:
[sports blog voice] The internet went ham after the dunk. But I want to bring attention to this Patrick Mahomes tweet, which also helps further explain the Caruso experience:
That boi @ACFresh21 is a dog! Haha! They are going to realize soon enough!— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) November 2, 2019
Allow me to lightly translate that for y’all. “That boi @ACFresh21 is a dog! / They are going to realize soon enough!” = that’s a baaaaad white boy.
“Haha!” = I can’t believe a guy that looks like this is doing what he does, it’s kind of funny!
That’s what makes Caruso so enjoyable for everybody. For some of us, he’s a white dude with game that we respect because he’s got bunnies (for the uninitiated, that means he can dunk nice lol). For others, he looks like them and is part of a very small handful of white guys putting in some kind of work in the NBA.
Caruso is a lot of things to a lot of different people, which makes his handful of moments wonderful for everybody. We don’t know how long his wave will last, but we’re going to enjoy it while it’s here.