Kevin Garnett inspired an entire generation of basketball players. Despite standing seven-feet tall and protecting the rim and patrolling the paint like a true big man, the future Hall of Famer drained jumpers, dished assists, and danced across the floor like a guard. There had never been anyone like Garnett when he entered the NBA in 1995; over 20 years later, the league is littered with players cut from his once-unique cloth.
Serge Ibaka fits that bill. The Orlando Magic’s draft-night trade prize isn’t the all-around offensive player Garnett was, but still represents an extremely rare commodity the Minnesota Timberwolves legend did, too: a shot-blocking big man who spaces the floor.
That’s no accident. Ibaka, like so many twentysomethings across the globe, counts Garnett as his favorite basketball player. Unlike his millions of peers, though, the Congo native became a Garnett fanboy by accident – a development he says helped propel him to the game’s highest level of competition.
In the video above, Ibaka fields a series of random questions from The Undefeated. While watching him try to name all 17 of his siblings in 17 seconds is certainly amusing, no answer Ibaka gives is more entertaining than the story of how he accidentally became one of Garnett’s biggest fans.
“I really hope one day that I can meet with him and tell him that if I’m here today it’s because [of] his inspiration,” Ibaka says of Garnett.
“His poster. Like, having his poster in my home. I was waking up every morning at 5:00 in the morning to go run. Before I go I was watching that poster, before I go to bed I was watching that poster.
“I think that’s what made me to be here,” Ibaka says.