The Slatest

The Story Behind That Hilarious Viral Video of Ted Cruz Stinking at Basketball

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas looks on during Game Three of the NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals between the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs at Toyota Center on May 7, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas looks on during Game Three of the NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals between the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs at Toyota Center on May 7, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

On Wednesday, this very funny thing happened.

The above is footage of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas playing basketball, set to the song “Jumpman” by Drake and Future. The joke is pretty self-explanatory: Cruz appears to be very bad at basketball and this is what a viral highlight reel of him playing would look like.

It’s worth mentioning that Ted Cruz is probably not this bad at basketball. The footage comes from an apparently self-deprecating clip Cruz himself posted, set to the classic sports medley anthem “Chariots of Fire.”

The clip is of Cruz “training” for a charity basketball game with Jimmy Kimmel. Cruz looked much less awful in his match against the talk show host, making a number of layups and hitting some tougher mid-range jumpers.

It was reported last year that Cruz had started a weekly basketball game with some of his Senate colleagues as part of an effort to mend political fences. (Cruz has been said to be one of the most personally disliked members of the body, even among his fellow Republicans). Politico reported at the time that Cruz was “said to be a surprisingly good jump-shooter with miserable form,” a statement that was borne out by his performance against Kimmel.

This wasn’t the first time that Cruz’s efforts to convey his interest in the sport have backfired, though. During the 2016 Republican presidential primary, he referred to a basketball rim as a “basketball ring.” Then there were Cruz’s failed attempts to banter with Deadspin over his resemblance to Duke star Grayson Allen. (Deadspin did not respond in kind.)

Perhaps most interestingly, Wednesday’s viral clip was produced by Jordan Uhl, a podcast host and video distribution manager at MoveOn.org, in direct response to a series of personal attacks on Cruz’s Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke, by the Texas Republican Party earlier in the day.

On Wednesday, the Texas GOP sent out these tweets:

O’Rourke and Cruz had been feuding over the details of a debate schedule, and Cruz has attacked the Democrat for not accepting the senator’s terms. That included a proposed debate date for Friday that O’Rourke confirmed on Monday he would not be attending.

The Texas GOP’s tweets seem to be using the debate fight to mock O’Rourke for being a skateboarder, having worn a dress in a rock band, and for having a DWI arrest 20 years ago. The second of those three items seems to be a not-so-subtle anti-LGBTQ dog whistle. “It wasn’t presented with any context, like the others were,” Uhl told me. “It was just a ‘hey look at this __pejorative__ wearing a dress’ and they would let the voters fill in the blank.”

Uhl also resurfaced video of a younger Cruz saying his personal aspirations were to appear in a Malibu “tit film” and then “take over the world—world domination, rule everything, rich, powerful, that sort of stuff.”

The race has tightened in recent days, so it’s perhaps not surprising to see the campaign start to become uglier than Cruz’s basketball skills.