Alex Caruso is an NBA superstar. No, he’s not as talented as his Lakers teammates LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but he’s tweeted about just as much as James and Davis, if not more — and when you look at him, it’s not that hard to understand why.
If Caruso wasn’t 6’5” and built like He-Man, he could easily be mistaken for a biology teacher or Little League Baseball coach, so the fact that he’s an NBA player with serious leaping ability is objectively hilarious. Like, imagine if your patrol Leader in Boy Scouts put 6’10 center on a poster — it would be the talk of the town! And Caruso has gotten that type of attention on a national scale for almost a year now.
While it definitely has its perks, Caruso said that the amount of fanfare that he gets can be bothersome at times in Monday’s episode of “The Official Lakers Podcast”:
“Yeah for sure. I mean there was moments — not as much in the beginning ... And when I say the beginning, I mean the beginning of the season, because that’s when it really picked up and people were trying to label me as that, and like really hyped it up. I was really just excited to finally play and be a part of an NBA roster, and contribute to a team for 82 games. And all that’s going on, and obviously anybody that knows me, y’all know I’m pretty low-key, low-maintenance, like that stuff doesn’t really bother me.
“But yeah, it did get to a point to where I was just sitting back and literally anything I did, somebody would tweet about it, or somebody was reporting on it, and at a certain point I was just like, ‘this is just like borderline annoying.’ It was to the point where it’s like, let’s just focus on basketball, and we’re having so much success on the court that I would love for it to be more about that than me doing a random play in a game.”
But Caruso made sure to clarify that it’s not Lakers fans that are the problem — it’s how big his local legend has grown:
”It’s not as much Lakers fans. It’s more like the outside world. People in L.A., or Lakers fans in general, they’ve seen me grow over the last couple of years, and they’ve kind of gotten accustomed to me doing this. They got little spurts of it here or there when I was on a two-way the first year, and then that one game at the end of the year against the Clippers I played really well, and then last year, kind of same thing. I got thrown in, played a little better, little better, and it was a lot of what you said. It was the energy, it was the little things that I do that kind of go unnoticed, and then at the end of the year have a great game, and that’s when everybody outside of Lakers fans started to notice. It was like ‘oh wow, this guy can do some things, but West Coast games, late night, people they don’t see our actual games, they just see what people put out on social media. The clips, the highlights or whatever. Or the tweet about this random white guy that’s very unassuming looking that plays for the Lakers that they all think it’s just hype, or it’s just because he plays in L.A. with LeBron... It’s not Lakers fans. It’s mainly like outside of the realm of Laker Nation.”
With all of that in mind, Caruso understands that not all NBA players get the national attention that he does, and he’s grateful for the opportunities that his celebrity has granted him, even if it can be overwhelming:
“The hype that comes with playing in Los Angeles and being a Laker. That part of it’s been phenomenal and it’s opened a bunch of doors for me, and helped me meet a bunch of people that I probably wouldn’t have if I was playing in another city.”
It’s not like Caruso’s play hasn’t warranted some hype, either. According to Cleaning the Glass, Caruso’s posted the second-highest efficiency differential (+6.6) on the team this season. He’s also ranked among the top 10 in the NBA in net rating (minimum 15 minutes per game played).
As long as Caruso’s doing his part to help the Lakers win games, that hype won’t go anywhere, for better or for worse.