Why NBA impersonator Brandon Armstrong is chasing his basketball dreams in Melbourne

FLOPPING, free throws, and ... a fire alarm?

Welcome to Australian basketball.

Brandon Armstrong -- aka BDot, aka "that NBA impersonator" -- was playing his first professional game in more than two years.

In Australia, of all places.

He'd had a reasonably solid debut, with 12 points and seven steals, but with less than a minute to play, his team -- the Melbourne University Black Angels -- trailed the Geelong Supercats. And then the fire alarm went off.

Not to worry, Armstrong casually drained a triple while the referees, instead of stopping play, decided to continue playing.

For another 30 seconds, with the peals of the alarm bell ringing in their ears, Armstrong and his teammates continued to battle against the Supercats, until, pardon the pun, cooler heads prevailed and the game was called, Geelong winning 79-72.

"It was crazy! I've never experienced anything like that, I was so confused!" Armstrong laughs, relaxed in his high-rise Melbourne apartment.

It's been that sort of experience for the 27-year-old Armstrong, who has temporarily set aside his status as a world-famous sports comedian and YouTube sensation to chase his own dreams of a professional playing career.

Those dreams have taken him on a journey from Division II college Lincoln Memorial University, to Spain, to the G-League, to YouTube, and now, to Australia.

He's just not sure how far his dream goes.

But he's chasing hard.

"I try to be successful in whatever I do. I don't have an end goal or an end plan. I don't like to put a cap on things. Whatever happens, happens," Armstrong tells ESPN. "I'm just going with the flow, taking it day by day. If this leads me playing in the NBA or the NBL, or playing in the SEABL or in Europe then I'm going to just go with it."

Going with the flow has been Armstrong's calling card - and it was this carefree attitude that changed the whole direction of his life.

In 2015 he was on his way to the NBA's Summer League in Las Vegas and following that, a camp for potential European league players.

But he missed his flight and the very next day uploaded his original Russell Westbrook impersonation to YouTube.

And just like that he wouldn't play another professional game for almost three years.

The video went big -- virally big -- and left fans and even NBA players wanting and demanding more.

So Armstrong naturally obliged, with further parodies of LeBron James, Steph Curry, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, just to name a few, putting on hold at least temporarily, any notions of a professional playing career.

"It changed my whole life. It all happened for a reason and it all worked out," Armstrong says. "I like to be the first at everything, I try to be some kind of inspiration, giving hope to people who might want to go back to their first love and be successful. You're never too old or never too late to chase your dream."

But, the question then has to be asked, why Australia? Why Melbourne University, who play in the second tier of the semi-professional Big V state competition.

Armstrong says he had a number of teams in the US and Europe look at his resume and overlook him, dismissing his credentials, not to mention his status as a YouTube celebrity.

But the Atlanta native was tired of not playing seriously. Tired of playing in celebrity games that didn't matter.

"That was the biggest struggle, a lot of teams were hesitant," Armstrong says. "Some teams looked at my highlights from Spain and the D-League and they were like 'we don't think this league is for you, it's a little too good' and I'd never heard that before. There were teams that didn't want to take the risk or they didn't know how serious I really was.

"But I wasn't doing any impersonations, I was just training and working out. So Melbourne took a chance on me and I'm so happy and grateful for that."

In nine games thus far for Melbourne University, Armstrong is showing signs of promise, averaging 18.2 points, an impressive 7.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per outing.

But he's also shown some clear rustiness from not playing organised basketball for some time, hitting just 39.6 per cent of his field goals and 36.6 per cent from international waters.

Although on a three-game winning streak, his team is yet to completely find its rhythm too, sitting ninth in the standings with a 5-6 record after 11 games, although Armstrong missed the opening two games of the season, both losses.

The physical brand of Australian semi-professional basketball has also taken some getting used to, as has the incessant trash-talking from opponents who have taken great delight in getting in as many verbal shots as possible.

"I never got a tech before and I've been T-ed up twice for flopping!" Armstrong laughs. "But it wasn't an intentional flop -- if I mean to do it, you'll know -- so just adapting to that and Australian players trying a few things just because of who I am. It's been fun, I never used to be a big talker on the court but now it's just triggered something. I just laugh at it, it's a physical league but I love it, bring your best at me and let's go!"

Off-court, Armstrong isn't planning on staying quiet, with plenty of new impersonations in store, most with a distinctly Australian vibe.

With Joe Ingles excelling during the playoffs for the Utah Jazz, Armstrong quickly whipped up an Ingles video, but it's likely Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons and San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills that Armstrong has his sights set on.

"I do have a Ben Simmons one (in the works), I just need to find an 8' goal I can dunk on!" Armstrong says. "I'll probably try to do a Patty Mills one, I'm going to try to do every Australian (NBA) player, I've already done Delly but I'll re-do that. And I like (Dante) Exum, he's long and athletic."

From fire alarms and flopping, to trash-talking and techs, Armstrong has discovered just how different the game he thought he knew could be.

YouTube, celebrity games, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and the NBA, none of those things matter right now. They did once, and they may again.

Armstrong leans back, it's a typically grey Melbourne day -- it could be May or October on a day like this -- he's half a world away from home ... and he couldn't be happier.

"Man, life is good right now."