The funny man of Duke men's basketball
Don’t call Marshall Plumlee goofy. His brothers Mason and Miles might, but he doesn’t like it.
“I don’t call myself this, but they think I’m goofy,” Marshall said. “Just the images it conjures up of a clutz stumbling around and saying stupid stuff—I’d like to think I have a little more poise than that. But hey, apparently I’m goofy, so I’ll take it.”
Whether or not goofy is the right word, Marshall, a redshirt freshman, may just be the funniest member on the Duke basketball team.
He has yet to step on the court for the Blue Devils—after redshirting last season, he suffered a stress fracture in his foot that his kept him out of the beginning of this year—but he has found another place to star: Duke Blue Planet. Run by the men’s basketball team’s communications and recruiting coordinator David Bradley, the website features the lighter side of members of the team, bringing fans videos such as “Kyle Singler Gets Buckets.”
And when Marshall came to campus last year, Bradley got his top recruit.
“He’ll have a shot to go in the Blue Planet hall of fame, no question,” Bradley said. “Definitely the funniest Plumlee. He’s an all-timer.”
Marshall said he is not necessarily the funniest Plumlee, just the most open one. He can sometimes be too open, he said, often putting his foot in his mouth.
He described Miles, who was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers after graduating last year, as the intellectual of the group. Senior forward Mason, he said, is the most organized and has the driest sense of humor.
But what might separate Marshall from his brothers and teammates is his flexibility on camera. He often assumes the role of the reporter in postgame interviews, questioning members of the team, including his brother Mason.
“It loosens me up more because you can’t take him seriously,” Mason said. Mason added that Marshall was not always the comedian or the funny brother, but he has slowly come into his own.
“He wasn’t really funny to me until we got to high school, then for whatever reason he started cracking jokes,” Mason said. “All kinds: clever kinds, stupid jokes.”
Marshall’s favorite video, however, was a piece he co-starred in with Mason parodying “The Bachelor,” in which the duo auditioned candidates to replace Miles, who graduated last year and is now a forward for the Indiana Pacers.
Marshall credits Bradley with turning him into a comedy star—saying 99 percent of what he says actually is not funny—but Bradley noted that Marshall deserves credit for the time he takes to ponder what he should say prior to interviews or to acting in a short clip.
Marshall also often comes up with video ideas himself. During the summer, he fenced with two female members of the Duke fencing team while teammate junior Josh Hairston announced. Sometimes Marshall is so funny that it makes it tough to film, Bradley said.
“He’s pretty much taken it and run with it on his own,” Bradley said. “I’ll be filming and he’ll do something that’s so funny or surprising that I’ll lose the handle on the camera and it’ll shake a little bit, so I’ve had to have highlights on top of the footage to mask my inability to keep a steady hand.”
Watch: The Bachelor: Plumlee Edition
Fans have taken notice too—as soon as Marshall makes a new video, message boards on popular Duke websites inevitably take notice with glowing praise. Although he has been unable to play on the court since joining campus, he has used the videos as a way of interacting with the Blue Devil faithful.
Before last week’s Duke-Ohio State game, he went into Krzyzewskiville and interviewed some of the students who were tenting, even though one of them was shirtless.
“More than anything, what fuels our creativity is our fans who enjoy it and watch it,” Marshall said. “We always tell the fans that we thank them and appreciate them, but nothing is the same as going to them and getting to know them in person.”
Marshall said stand-up comedy is not in the cards after college, but he would love the chance to cameo in movies. Mason predicted that if basketball does not play into a professional career, he could see Marshall “going the Jay Bilas route” as a commentator. If not, he could see his little brother doing something related to his passion for video games.
Marshall is now preparing to play his first games at Duke—with his foot healing, he has returned to practice—and Bradley said it will let fans see another side of the 7-foot center because he can be so intense on the floor.
But there’s no denying that off the court, he has assumed the role of Duke basketball’s top comedian.
“I think he’s just a funny dude,” Bradley said.