Nearly every time Joe Ingles walks into a room full of reporters or even gets near a gaggle of them, if he can even see a microphone or sense a voice recorder, he makes some sort of tongue-in-cheek joke about how he doesn’t want to talk to them.
“Nobody told me I had to talk to this bunch today,” he says with a sideways smile, a sort of wink and nod to the Utah Jazz’s PR staff.
“Oh great, my favorite part of the day,” he’ll say, elongating the first syllable of ‘favorite’ with an eye roll and a laugh.
“What happens if I refuse to do media?” he asks after practice, joking but honestly wondering what the answer is.
Here’s the thing, though — Joe Ingles loves to talk.
He might joke about not wanting to talk to members of the media, but he’s by far the best player on the Jazz to interview. He gives long, thoughtful, funny, sincere and candid answers. He also makes regular appearances on “DJ & PK,” a radio show on 1280 The Zone hosted by David James and Patrick Kinahan. In 2020, when the NBA season was suspended and there were no more interviews, Ingles and his wife Renae started their own podcast, “Ingles Insight.”
But if there’s one thing that Ingles likes more than talking, it’s trash-talking.
It doesn’t matter who is on the receiving end, it doesn’t matter if it’s playful, or fueled by anger or competition, if he just wants to see if he can get a rise out of someone, or if he is just looking for some laughs. No matter the situation, Ingles loves to talk some smack.
Ask anyone in the NBA about Ingles and the first thing they bring up isn’t that the Aussie is one of the best shooters in the league. It’s not that he came into the league at 27 and still managed to improve and carve out an impressive career. No, when somebody hears ‘Joe Ingles,’ they think about his unrelenting ribbing and flowery vocabulary.
He is known for being one of the best trash-talkers in the league, and because of that reputation, without fail, in nearly every arena, by reporters from every market, Ingles is asked about his trash-talking prowess. But it’s the one thing that he absolutely hates talking about.
“It’s so annoying, so annoying,” Ingles said when I asked what he thinks when reporters bring it up. “I actually genuinely probably hate that question more than anything.”
The way Ingles sees it, trash-talking and trying to get underneath someone’s skin is a part of the game and he’s no different than anyone else.
“The quietest guy on the team has trash-talked to someone,” he continued, defending his position. “Can you let everyone know not to ask me that question anymore?”
Here I am, holding up my part of the bargain. To every reporter out there, Joe Ingles doesn’t think his trash talk is anything special and he’s tired of talking about it.
The only problem is, he’s wrong.
Ingles’ trash talk and constant gibes are not like anyone else’s. There are two very distinct things about Ingles’ trash talk that put him into another tier, that makes him an elite trash-talker.
First, he is unrelenting and never, ever stops.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on his team, on an opposing team, there doesn’t even have to be any competition. If Ingles sees an opening to make fun, to crack wise, to ruffle some feathers, he’s going to do it.
A reporter’s phone rings — Ingles is saying something. Someone sneezes in the middle of a press conference — Ingles makes sure to draw all attention to the sneezer. Someone wears an outfit that’s a little weird — they will hear about it from Ingles.
And on the court Ingles is even more persistent, and even more unrelenting.
“He doesn’t shut up,” Donovan Mitchell said with a laugh. “If your hands are on your knees he’s knocking your arm out. It’s little things. He does it to me in practice all the time.”
Every dead ball, every free throw, every play. There’s never a time when Ingles doesn’t have something to say. It’s the one thing Hassan Whiteside pointed to when asked what he knew about his teammates before joining the Jazz this season.
So I give Whiteside the explanation that Ingles gave to me. Talking trash is just a part of the game, everyone is doing it.
“Not like Joe Ingles though,” Whiteside said, shaking his head and smiling. “It never stops with Joe and I love it. And we sit next to each other in the locker room so I’m definitely hearing it all the time.”
That’s the biggest thing that makes Ingles different from the rest of the league in this respect. It doesn’t matter the situation, he’s not going to take a break.
The second thing that sets Ingles apart is that he doesn’t really look like a tough, intimidating basketball player. The way his teammates describe him he looks like a substitute teacher, an accountant, a human resources manager. But then he gets on the court and he backs it all up.
Ingles can talk smack because he will lock you up on the defensive end and then he’ll shoot a pull-up 3 in your face on the other side. And the dichotomy of not looking the part and then being a terror in the game who talks a ton of trash is what catches people off guard.
“When I first got here I was like, ‘Oh I’m going to go at Joe,’” Mitchell said. “He let me know real quick it wasn’t going to be that easy.”
That’s the thing. Ingles looks like the kind of guy that can be targeted, then he will tell someone that they can’t score on him, then he will not let them score on him.
But even when he doesn’t back it up, it doesn’t slow him down.
“He bumped me talking about how I’ve got a little chest,” Whiteside said after a recent practice. “But he missed a layup twice. I’m like, ‘You didn’t even score what are you talking about?’ It never stops with him.”
That kind of thing can grate a little after a while, but his teammates know that it grates on the competition even more, so at the end of the day they’re fine with it.
And if they’re being completely honest, sometimes it grates just enough during practice that it makes things more intense and results in better sessions.
Then, when it’s game time, if Ingles’ teammates see him really going at someone and getting fired up, it becomes contagious and fires up the rest of the team. They love that he’s like that.
Then there’s the calmed-down version of Ingles. The one who still loves to talk and make connections and discuss interesting things. It’s one of the reasons that he and Jordan Clarkson have bonded so much. They’ll rip on each other back and forth, but they’ll also talk about family and life.
Ingles is truly someone who was born with the gift of gab. He’d be great in broadcasting if he decided to go that route after he retires from basketball (it’s something he’s thought about).
His way with words makes him a great teammate, a great competitor a great friend and of course, a great person to interview — as long as you don’t ask him about that one thing.