Joe Ingles’ words have made him a cult favourite.
Joe Ingles’ words have made him a cult favourite.

US raves over trash talking average Joe

Joe Ingles was never going to be the traditional NBA poster boy - but five years after making the leap into the biggest basketball league in the world, he's found where he belongs.

The 31-year-old South Australian is currently Australia's highest paid basketballer, starting with the Utah Jazz and averaging 31 minutes a game this season.

He's producing 11.8 points per game, 4.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists but that only tells part of the story of the impact he's having on the league.

His shooting has been praised by Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry - one of the greatest shooters of all-time - who said "we got a lot in common".

But despite all the on-court praise, it's Ingles' trash talking and on-court personality which draws most of the attention and has made him a cult figure around the league.

And it's his takedown of Blake Griffin and kiss to a mouthy fan that has America paying attention all over again.

SB Nation called him "the NBA's best trash talker" and Deadspin praised his "uninterrupted stream of quality trash talk".

Fans in the front row copped it after the Aussie hit a key three-pointer in Utah's six-point win over the Detroit Pistons. After hitting the shot, he blew a kiss to one particularly vocal member of the crowd, with his "kiss of death" going across the country.

Speaking on ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski's podcast The Woj Pod, Ingles explained why.

"I do hear a lot and I'm always going to have my teammate's backs," he said.

"Last night with the blowing of the kiss to what ended up being a Lakers fan, but he was cheering for Detroit.

"A majority of the last quarter he was talking to Donovan (Mitchell). It just happened to be the last possession I was literally like me to you away and things just happen. It looked pretty good.

"My daughter blows me kisses on FaceTime so it's her fault."


Trash talking has become part of the package Ingles offers in the NBA.

In a recent match against Detroit, he also had a stoush with Blake Griffin - and not for the first time - calling the Pistons star a "flopper".

Ingles doubled down on the claim. "He's (Griffin) like defined and has muscles popping out of every part of his body," he said. "There's no way I'm going to make him fall like that."

But when asked if he thinks he's one of the best trash talkers in the league, Ingles didn't think it was the case.

"It's funny that it's become something," he said. "Today on the plane, (teammate) Georges Niang was sitting opposite me and we were talking, he said the funniest part is I'm very good at being able to talk to people and get people off their game.

Take that Blake.
Take that Blake.

"I can play the same way and talk to everyone in the arena - coach, other team, the players - (and) it does make me laugh a little bit in my head when it's happening, but some guys just get so rattled by it and then the rest of the game they're so worried about me or trying to hit me or push me or screen me that it ends up being an advantage for us.

"I don't go into a game thinking I'm going to go to blah blah blah and say this.

"I'm not always the first one to start talking. I do hear a lot and I'm always going to have my teammates' backs. Things just happen I guess."


Trash talking has helped Ingles make his mark on the league - but it's his old man game and Average Joe look that's made him resonate with fans.

Ingles doesn't have the look for a normal NBA star and said it can lead to some bizarre social media chat.

"Let's be real, 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," Ingles said.

"Let's be real, settle down. Twitter's great because people can say whatever they want, they can feel like they're the biggest hero or they can just be a fan but just settle down, it's ridiculous."

Ingles approaches his time in the NBA with a laid-back attitude and said it took some time for him to learn his role within the team and organisation.

But ultimately he likes to enjoy himself with his team.

Ingles took a long path to the NBA, starting in the NBL before going to Europe.

When he finally got a shot with the LA Clippers, he was cut from training camp before the Jazz swooped in to pick him up.

"I didn't know if I'd be here a year or half the year, now going on five, six years," he said.

It still took him some time to earn some respect.

"When I was on the court my first couple of years, every time we would switch 1-3 or 1-4 pick and roll, they would look at me and back up and wave their hand to clear everyone out and it was like 'I'm going one-on-one'," Ingles said.

"It was literally every possession and I was like this is just stupid. It's five-on-five, let's play basketball, this isn't some streetball tournament."


Shawn Redhage, Andrew Bogut and Joe Ingles at the Beijing Olympics.
Shawn Redhage, Andrew Bogut and Joe Ingles at the Beijing Olympics.

The long-time Boomer will be a key for Australia ahead of next years' Olympics.

Already a three-time Olympian after first playing while in the NBL at the 2008 Beijing games, Ingles likes Australia's chances going forward.

"In Beijing, we only had Bogut in the NBA," he said. "We were majority NBL players, Europeans and Bogut and maybe someone else from the NBA. Now we've got eight, nine, 10 players playing in the NBA.

"For us, a part of it was, I was 20 years old back in Beijing, hell yeah I'm scared of Kobe, LeBron, I've never seen these guys in person before. The fact we play them daily now and weekly and get to challenge ourselves against different players and a lot of the guys who will end up playing."