Serge Ibaka: The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Rising Star
By ASM Sports
ASM Sports maintains a full roster of NBA stars as clients, including Daniel Gibson, Marreese Speights, Kevin Garnett, and Serge Ibaka. Of all of the rising stars in the NBA, 21-year-old Serge Ibaka’s story is certainly one of the most unique. The third-youngest of 18 siblings, Ibaka was born to prominent basketball-playing parents in the Congolese city of Brazzaville. Growing up without electricity or running water, Ibaka suffered personal turmoil. His father was incarcerated as a political prisoner, and his mother died at an early age. Without even the means for a decent pair of shoes, Ibaka stuck to his passion for basketball, earning himself a chance to play in Europe at age 17. Selected by the Seattle Supersonics in the 2008 draft, Ibaka became an Oklahoma City Thunder player when the team relocated. Coming off the bench last season as a rookie, the 6-foot, 10-inch Ibaka stretched his physical limits with a dizzying array of dunks and blocks that made him an instant crowd-pleaser.
Playing in 73 games, Ibaka achieved 1.3 blocks per game, the highest number among rookies. Playing in the first round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers, he averaged a very respectable 7.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. A highlight was Ibaka’s Game Two performance, which included 7 blocks. Serge Ibaka took his performance to a higher level in the 2010-2011 season, with an average of 9.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game.
These numbers increased significantly in the postseason, with Ibaka assisting the Thunder past the Grizzlies into the Western Conference Finals. Notably, Ibaka had a stellar first-round postseason game against the Denver Nuggets, scoring 22 points, with 16 boards and 4 blocks. Serge Ibaka’s recent performance, propelling a young team to victory, did not go unnoticed. ESPN analyst Jack Ramsay commented that Ibaka has a rare shot-blocking potential that reminds him of Bill Russell. In particular, Ibaka has the ability to guide blocked balls to teammates rather than swatting them out of bounds. In addition, he is difficult to read, keeping shooters guessing, and they often make the wrong decisions around the hoop when he is defending.
Andy Miller has headed the sports management firm ASM Sports since 1992, negotiating contracts for NBA players and presiding over $500 million in apparel, sneaker, and endorsement contracts.