Pat Riley and Dion Waiters at the Gucci store picking out scarves to wear to Rockwell. Hassan Whiteside walks in, asks them what they’re doing that night. They look up, say the word nothing, return their eyes to the display.
Waiters, aka Mr. Step Back aka Downhill Dion aka Nion Dion aka And 1,000 aka Kobe Wade aka Yo Over Here, is the Fellini of Instagram stories. Roger Deakins calls him for advice. He lists Kurosawa and Akerman as influences. A lot of times in these stories he’s recently gotten a haircut and he shows it to his viewers. “See the cut,” and he rotates the camera. “See the cut,” he says again. “Yeahhhhhh.” Sometimes they feature his son. His son is a star. Waiters has moved to Miami and has a great balcony at his place that it seems like—if you trust Instagram—he spends a lot of time on. His bio is four flame emojis and #fatherfirst.
He’s gone to at least a couple Eagles games this year. One Sunday a short while ago we got a slow pan of his TV room, three flat screens hanging on the wall. On one was tennis, on another Grand Theft Auto V, and on the last the Eagles were playing Washington D.C.’s professional football team. He was in a Philly era Vick jersey and he sort of talk sang.
“Are you ready for some football? I am. Let’s go Eagles, let’s go. Boom boom.”
That he only has around 260,000 followers is a failure of our nation’s educational system.
Waiters became the butt of the joke sometime around his second year in the league. There have been countless Vines and Instagram videos of him waving his arms in the air, alone in the corner, knowing or thinking he’s open, hoping for LeBron or Kyrie or Durant or Westbrook to pass him the ball. He established a reputation as a selfish player, somebody that’s easy to make fun of. The truth is Waiters was solid—even great, some moments—in his role last year, playoffs included. People can’t get over their first impressions, though. If you ask somebody about his performance in the postseason they’ll probably bring up him shoving Manu Ginobili on that last second inbounds play in the Thunder-Spurs series, people so excited to pile on Waiters that most, at least initially, didn’t pay attention to the fact that Ginobili had stepped over the line before the Waiters shove. Got to get them jokes in. Few will talk about the defense he played for all three rounds. Fewer will talk about some of the timely shots he hit.
Waiters is a target for just about every single person who tweets about basketball. He’s inspired almost as many jokes as the Bush presidency. Zach Lowe once said on a podcast or some such thing that a player’s reputation is usually about two years behind what the player currently is. That seems right.