Quietly, Kyle O’Quinn has been a key part of the New York Knicks‘ surprising 16-13 start. The reserve center is averaging career highs in assists, rebounds and field goal percentage. His net rating of plus-7.5 is the best among the Knicks who have played at least 400 minutes.
“That’s the engine,” Knicks forward Michael Beasley said of O’Quinn. “He gets in and he’s loud, he’s ferocious. He gets more blocks than he’s supposed to. Defense, offensive rebounding. He’s the energy guy on this team; he’s the one that keeps it all going.”
“It’s 100 kids saying, ‘Selfie, selfie, selfie, snapchat, what’s your snapchat?’ But once you get that out of the way, it’s fun.”
Knicks C Kyle O’Quinn
O’Quinn fills all of those roles well for the Knicks.
But for a few Saturdays during his tenure in New York, O’Quinn has taken on an entirely different one: bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah entertainer.
“The parties are crazy,” he said. “I did one, did two, and the next thing you know, I was just Bar Mitzvah Man.”
O’Quinn is one of the bigger comedians in the Knicks’ locker room, so it makes sense that he would thrive as the headline act at a party filled with 13-year-olds. The 6-foot-10 center spends most of his time at the parties socializing, dancing, joking around with families and — of course — taking plenty of selfies.
“A lot of times, I go and I stay longer than I’m supposed to because it’s so much fun,” O’Quinn said. “The food’s always good. The only thing that gets a little overwhelming is the kids; sometimes they don’t listen to the structure of the party and it just gets loose.
“And the [parents] kind of leave it like, ‘Kyle, you deal with it.’ And it’s kids saying, ‘Selfie, selfie, selfie, snapchat, what’s your snapchat?’ But once you get that out of the way, it’s fun.”
One teammate looked over quizzically when O’Quinn’s spoke about his role as bar/bat mitzvah entertainer recently.
“You just don’t know,” O’Quinn told the teammate.
O’Quinn didn’t attend any bar mitzvahs or bat mitzvahs while growing up in Queens.
“I didn’t have any Jewish friends,” he said.
So the 27-year-old didn’t know what to expect when he was invited to the bat mitzvah of the daughter of his agent, Andy Miller.
“That was one of the best parties I’ve been too in my life,” O’Quinn said.
It also was the beginning of a nice side gig for O’Quinn, who has been with the Knicks since the 2014-15 season. Through his agency, O’Quinn booked a few appearances at bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs in the area.
He arrives to the party after the religious ceremony and is sometimes introduced by video or by the emcee.
“Then I come out and they just go nuts,” he said. “After that, it’s like [I’m] a part of the party.”
That includes dancing, joking around with the kids, taking selfies and signing autographs.
“They see how much I enjoy it and they let me rock out,” he said. “The parents are partying with the kids and it’s a big festival. They’re letting loose, having a good time, and the kids are having a good time.
“Honestly, it’s really nice to be a part of their culture and be down with them.”
O’Quinn doesn’t have any immediate plans to attend another bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah. He’s fairly busy with his day job at the moment. But if he has a free Saturday in the near future, you can be sure he’ll consider it.
“One thing I can say about these families,” O’Quinn said, “they all know how to party.”