Denny Hamlin is the closest of any NASCAR star to NBA circles, as he has long been friends and business partners with basketball icon and 23XI Racing co-owner Michael Jordan. Of course, having some skills on the hardwood goes a long way towards that, as Hamlin showed in an off-track escapade with some star players on the New York Giants.
On Thursday, Denny Hamlin was seen with Giants quarterback Daniel Jones and wide receivers Darius Slayton & David Sills in social media posts, which included quite the highlight from Hamlin: After no one picked him up, Hamlin lobbed up a half-court shot that went in perfectly, eliciting some shouts from his fellow players.
Speaking to the media on Friday, Hamlin explained that he was introduced to Jones and his crew through mutual friends in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Jones, a Charlotte native, had been training with his teammates and were looking for a place to play basketball.
“One of my mutual friends asked and said ‘Hey, they’d like to play basketball, do you mind if they play at your place?’ I didn’t mind, of course,” said Hamlin. “Unfortunately they were short bodies, so I had to lace them up. I really didn’t want to, to be honest with you. But that was how I met them — fun guys.”
The Giants contingent was given a tour of Hamlin’s home, which includes everything from a basketball court to his Daytona 500-winning cars. There was one hiccup, however, when the Giants became fascinated by Hamlin’s sim racing rig he uses for iRacing.
“My buddies said they couldn’t get them off the racing simulator. They had a lot of questions,” said Hamlin. “One of them was where can they get a ride along, they want to race a car now, and where they can get a simulator. That was the biggest issue we had was getting those guys off my racing simulator.”
The crossover between the Giants and Hamlin is an interesting one, and also presents a phonetic opportunity: With Hamlin showing off his skills to Danny Dimes on the court, one who saw his shot could easily have called the three-time Daytona 500 Champion “Denny Dimes” in the moment.
“Dimes means that I pass it to somebody, and I don’t pass very much,” laughed Hamlin. “Listen, I always said ‘You’ve got to be confident. You pull up from the logo, you better be confident.’ That is my shot, believe it or not. It’s not like just a hope and a prayer. I probably have a better percentage from there than I do the free-throw line to be honest with you.”
Interestingly, Hamlin’s hosting the Giants is somewhat inconvenient for his pro football loyalties: Hamlin is a longtime fan of the Washington Football Team, and Daniel Jones is a perfect 4-0 against Washington in his young career.