After completing their coverage of the NBA Draft last year, Connor Toole’s colleagues at Elite Daily thought of an idea.
“Why don’t we bring you to the draft and convince people you just got drafted?” they asked him.
After all, Toole, a 24-year-old senior comedy writer for the online media company, stands nearly 7 feet tall and looks the part of a professional basketball player. So on Thursday, Toole threw on a suit and tie and headed to Barclays Center in Brooklyn with a video crew 45 minutes before the NBA Draft was scheduled to begin.
The prank worked even better than he had expected as Toole spent the night in New York successfully fooling people that he was a second-round selection of the Utah Jazz.
“Whenever I go out people ask me if I’m a basketball player,” Toole said Friday in a phone interview with the Washington Post. “So I figured if I put on a suit and tie it would sort of write itself.”
Toole accepted handshakes from well-wishers, posed for selfies and indulged fans in any requests they had prior to the draft. He even donned a New York Knicks hat with a group of delirious Knicks fans. (Some of those same fans were likely much less excited later on after New York drafted Kristaps Porzingis with the No. 4 overall pick.)
Having purchased tickets for the upper level, Toole and his video crew were able to get inside, but they later made it down to the lower level without much trouble to see some of the top draft picks being called onstage.
“I walked in the lower level and saw them checking tickets, but [when they saw me] the security guard just shrugged it off,” Toole said. “I guess if you see a giant dude in a suit you’re not going to ask too many questions.”
Toole was eventually asked to leave by a security guard around the time of the 10th pick, but not before he was able to interact with some of the players, including No. 6 overall pick Willie Cauley-Stein. Afterward, Toole walked around the city in a Jazz hat as fans flocked to him with photo requests and bartenders bought him shots. (He said he received “seven in a very short amount of time.”)
But nothing was as memorable as one young woman who can be seen toward the end of the video of the prank shared by Elite Daily.
“I remember being approached by a woman with a pierced nipple,” Toole said. “After that, I said I don’t think we’re going to top this.”
Toole, whose parents both stand above 6 feet, said he played high school basketball in Connecticut and only for fun at Boston College. He added that he isn’t a huge fan of the NBA but enjoys watching the college game.
“I’m a very casual Celtics fan,” he said. “I’m a Boston College fan, but they’re not really worth rooting for right now.”
Elite Daily, where Toole has been working for the past year and a half, had a work retreat Friday, so Toole wasn’t able to enjoy the moment with his coworkers, but he said he has been getting texts and tweets all day.
“It’s been an insane day,” he said. “But I didn’t anticipate it being this special.”
As for his next prank, Toole said he hasn’t thought that far ahead yet.
“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “But this has been building up my entire life for me to use my height like this. I’m sure there will be a follow up.”