If you've been following the NBA draft at all, you've heard of Bismack Biyombo. A 6'9" Congolese forward who tore up a Hoops Summit game in Portland, most known for his 7'7" wingspan and the likelihood that he's several years older than he claims.
Davy Rothbart from Grantland had an extended interview with Biyombo, trying to learn more about him. What we learn, mostly, is that he values honesty and hard work, and he sounds unreasonably mature for an 18-year old. (You could argue that he's been on his own in a foreign country for two years, and that will grow you up real fast.)
At one point Rothbart asks him about who he looks up to on the basketball court, and he has some good things to say about KG:
Hakeem Olajuwon, this is my favorite player. But there are two others I idolize in the way they play the game. Kevin Garnett — I like the way he wants to win every game. Every time he's on the floor, he plays intense and plays hard. When he's not on the floor, you can see the team missing him. On the other hand is Kevin Love. Some of the time people say, "You're crazy man. Why you're taking about Kevin Love? The reason why I say Kevin Love is that I love him, I love the way he plays the game. He's smart; he knows where to be to get the rebound. He's the best guy at grabbing the rebound over anyone. Watching him, that makes me learn something. At the end of the day, I'm never gonna be Kevin Love, I'm never gonna be Kevin Garnett, and also I'm never gonna be Hakeem Olajuwon. At the end of the day, I'm just gonna be me. Which means, I'm just gonna take some things from each of them, and that's gonna make me a little better.
The comment that stands out to me is "When he's not on the floor, you can see the team missing him." The kid must follow the team pretty well to point out something like that, even at 18. That may be obvious to those of us who watch nearly every Celtics game, but for somebody who's young and can't possibly watch that many games, it's a strong observation.
It would be easy for him to say he idolizes Josh Smith, Dwight Howard, LeBron — athletic freaks who send shots ten rows deep into the stands and throw down vicious dunks. KG doesn't do that as much anymore, but obviously is still a defensive presence (I actually think he's become underrated defensively, if that's possible). Bismack may have only been playing basketball for four years, but he sees it. And for his other favorite guys to be Kevin Love (not exactly Mr. Highlight) and Hakeem Olajuwon — he's either getting really good PR advice, or he knows the game better than people probably assume.
It's too bad the C's won't have any chance to get him, but then again we don't really have time for a project, and no matter how mature he seems, it's every bit as likely that he's the next Saer Sene as he is the next Serge Ibaka.
(Photo: Slam Online)