After his shootaround in Atlanta yesterday (a game the Pacers would go on to blow in the final minutes), we got up with former Georgetown Hoya, and current Indiana Pacers center, Roy Hibbert. He talked to us about how he came to play himself on Parks and Recreation, his flash mob performance, video games, Larry Bird, the Pacers title chances, and more. He even sets the record straight about his supposed love for Pokemon in high school.
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Dime: Was there anything crazy you bought after you signed your big contract with Indiana?
Roy Hibbert: Nothing very interesting. I bought my parents a house, and I bought myself a house in Indiana. That’s probably the most extravagant thing I bought. But nothing really juicy.
Dime: So tell us about how the flash mob dance thing happened? It really blew up on the Internet, so what provoked you to do it?
RH: I had always wanted to do a flash mob. I had seen the video of people doing the dance, and you know people dancing at a station like that, and standing still at the same time; it’s funny. The Area 55 group, who I give tickets too, helped, so it worked out. It was a nice little vacation, and Gangnam Style blew up. The thing is over 100 million views now, so it just worked out perfectly and the Pacers allowed me to use my creative juices to do it.
Dime: In that vein, you appeared on the Parks and Recreation show, so explain how that came about. Did they come to you and pitch it, or—
RH: Well for Parks and Rec, I always loved the show. I had always wanted to do cameo stuff. I had heard a story about how Derrick Rose was supposed to be on the show The Good Wife, which is based in Chicago. I thought, well what shows are based in Indiana, or maybe D.C.? That’s something I could be on that I watched [eds. note: Hibbert grew up outside of D.C. in Maryland’s North Bethesda region]. Parks and Rec came up, and my agent reached out to them. So I keep in touch with them. They came out and saw my opening game in Indiana this season. And they’re terrific people, so I keep a relationship with those guys.
Dime: Did you become friends with Detlef Schrempf at all, or did you guys hang out?
RH: (Laughs) Yeah. He was helping me to talk. They hired a guy too, and I had never acted or anything like that. (Schrempf) was a guy that has done a German soap opera before. So he was giving me pointers and talking about NBA life and stuff like that.
Dime: Are you looking to do any more acting or something like that?
RH: I’ve always been a fan of television and comedy. So I talk with the Parks and Rec people, but I’m actually a big fan of Adult Swim. So I’m gonna do an internship thing there, like a week or two in the summer, you know. Get a look behind the scenes.
Dime: So back to basketball. I don’t know if you know this, but during the Eastern Semifinals last year, the Pacers actually outscored the Heat when you were on the court. After four games this year, you’re averaging over 30 minutes a game. Do you see yourself getting more playing time this year?
RH: Coach likes to monitor our minutes and everything like that. I think I’m very capable of playing more, but he’s thinking about the whole season, your body and the fact that we have a great center coming off the bench, Ian Mahinmi. Obviously I’d like to, but whatever the coach wants to do, I’m ready for whatever I have to do.
Dime: Did you know how to pronounce Mahinmi’s name before he came to Indiana because I have no idea.
RH: Yeah. I’ve played against him a few times, so I saw the scouting report.
Dime: Are you still doing the MMA stuff in the offseason to stay in shape?
RH: Yeah, I do MMA at a downtown gym in Indiana run by Matt Mitrione [eds. note: Integrated Fitness Academy] and he trains UFC fighters.
Dime: And do you like spar, or just train like an MMA fighter?
RH: Just train, so like I’ll do 30 minutes of bench, then go do 30 minutes of CrossFit. You know the stuff UFC or MMA guys do to get their conditioning right. It’s a very mentally challenging workout. There were actually a couple times I wanted to quit, but – you know – I couldn’t.
Dime: So, do you still enjoy Pokemon characters? We gotta ask.
RH: I don’t know where that story came from. I mean, my high school coach said that, but no one told me to like “Power-Up” or anything like that.
Dime: So, we’re assuming no one in Indiana has ever told you to “Power-up, big fella?”
RH: I swear to God, no one has ever told me that or told me to say that. I wanna set the record straight.
Dime: Changing topics again, do you wanna tell Dime readers about Lee Eddins?
RH: It was a “Make a Wish” situation. He was obviously very sick. And his dying wish was to meet me or “Money” [Floyd] Mayweather. And at the time, Mayweather was locked up. So I said to myself it depends on what he expects that day, you know? Mayweather is like a huge celebrity, and me, I’m just like a player that may be able to amaze him some. So we decided to go out there and surprise him with some Pacers gear and stuff like that. I was in the parking lot, at the arena, about to leave to go to the airport and go see him, and I got a phone call that he passed. It’s unfortunate that he did pass, and he passed wearing a Pacers blanket. But it was a tough situation.
Dime: Are you still involved with the Make a Wish Foundation?
RH: Yeah, I’m still involved and everything like that. I do a lot of events for Leukemia. I’m (doing) more for Leukemia than Wake a Wish.
Dime: Just because we idolized him growing up, can you tell us one funny anecdote from when Larry Bird was an executive in Indiana?
RH: He was very laid back. One of our rookies, Shawne Williams, who used to be with us, he got traded. I think he ended up on the Knicks. So, I was coming to the gym to work out, my rookie year during the summer, and he actually (laughing) – Shawne started to dribble the ball, like MJ between his legs, and he said, “Remember when MJ used to give you buckets like that?” And then Larry was just like, “I’ll give you buckets right now.” That’s probably the funniest thing I remember. Larry was very confident he could out-shoot, you know, a young buck.
Dime: That’s great. Does he ever come back and watch the team at all?
RH: Two weeks ago he came back and watched practice.
Dime: So, you signed the big contract, there are expectations for this year’s team to be a top three or four seed in the East but the first four games have been sorta tough [eds. note: they’re now 2-3]. Where do you see for the team moving forward?
RH: Well, when we’ve first played together, we had a little breakdown. Missing Danny (Granger) is something that we kinda saw coming. During training camp we didn’t really have him around us; he really wasn’t practicing or playing, so we’re used to playing without him right now. So we’re just gonna have to figure out ways to win without one of our best players.
Dime: A couple nights ago, I watched you against Timmy Duncan. Is there a specific guy in the league that gives you a lot of trouble down low?
RH: Tim, I’ve had some good games against (Duncan) at various points, but that last game was just, uh, probably one of the worst games of my career. But there are certain guys that give you trouble. I’m not gonna name names, but I’m working on getting one up on them.
Dime: Are you still working on a low post game? Are you thinking of moving out and working on a little jumper? What sorts of things are you trying to improve on this year?
RH: Nah, I’ve always been a low post player. Don’t really have any interest on moving out past the post.
Dime: Obviously, the game has changed in that there aren’t a lot of post players, especially in the East. Do you think Indiana has an advantage because they have a legitimate 7-footer that can put the ball in the hoop?
RH: I think it just depends on any given night in terms of how people are being played. Whether they’re hot or not. I don’t really see it as an advantage or anything. I just wanna become a dominant post player. And that’s gonna take time.
Dime: I know you’re a big fan of the Call of Duty franchise, and I’ve seen a couple commercials for the new Call of Duty 3D. Have you scoped that out at all? I know you got a little video game setup at your place, so have you instituted the 3-D at all?
RH: I actually have bad eyesight, and I wear contacts, so 3D glasses probably would mess my eyes up. I’m just a fan of Call of Duty. And when the Red Alert game comes out, I’ll go ahead and get it, and hopefully we don’t have practice the next day.
Dime: I read somewhere that you’ve got a game on the day the new Call of Duty comes out, but you were gonna get a rookie to get the game.
RH: Yeah, a couple of the guys on the team sent rookies out to get Assassin’s Creed and Halo 4 that’s coming out today. You know, that’s what you have rookies for.
Dime: So you play a lot of games, not just Call of Duty? Like Halo 4?
RH: I haven’t played Halo since college, you know, but it’s a good game, and a great franchise, but I like Call of Duty.
Dime: Do you play any sports games? Do you play any of the NBA 2K—
RH: Nah, I stopped playing those games when they had shot sticks and everything like that. I like the first-person shooter.
Dime: Did you play any sports games growing up?
RH: Yeah, when I was a kid I used to play NBA 2K2 and 2K3. The last football game I played was Deion Sanders‘ Prime Time. The last basketball game I played was like college, NCAA March Madness. The one with Emeka Okafor on the cover.
Dime: So you never played in college at Georgetown as yourself?
RH: Yeah (laughs). I used to play as myself, but when I graduated I stopped playing games.
Dime: I know that Portland offered you a lot of money this summer. If Indiana hadn’t matched their offer sheet, would you have changed your Twitter avatar (@Hoya2APacer)?
RH: No, I’m sure if things had started seriously going forward, someone would have taken @Pacer2ABlazer, but I probably would have changed it straight up. Luckily I don’t have to.
Dime: Do you find yourself on Twitter a lot? A lot of NBA guys are tweeting every day.
RH: I try to spend some time with it online. But I’m also conscious of the fact that I’m playing, like tonight. I want people to know that I’m focused on basketball. Right now I’m going through a bit of a rough stretch. I don’t tweet dumb stuff.
Dime: Is there a specific player you’d like to model your game after? Who do you want to be compared to when your time is up?
RH: I’ve always been a fan of Tim Duncan. I wanna model my game after him. It’s gonna take some time, and he’s really good athlete, and has fundamentals, but if I could be spoken of like him that would be great.
Dime: So more substance than flash?
RH: Yeah, I’m not very flashy or athletic, so–
Dime: Well, I don’t know. I thought the flash dance was sorta flashy.
RH: Yeah, well that’s just a one-time thing.
Dime: Do you see Indiana as a top team this year, and someone that’s gonna contend for a title?
RH: I mean, it takes a lot of work to be a top team. It takes a lot of sacrifice and as of right now, we’re working at it. But it’s gonna take some time.
Dime: Is there anything you wanna say to Dime readers before we get off?
RH: Well, it’s the first time I’ve spoken with you guys, and hopefully one day I can grace the cover.
Dime: We’ll see what we can do.
RH: (laughing) Thanks.
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