Game four of the Eastern Conference finals came out a thriller as what I expected. Never mind the 18 point lead the Raptors once enjoyed, it was a seesaw battle and it was only decided at the last minute of the game.
With seconds left in their shot clock, JR Smith was dribbling the ball and stuttered his steps trying to squeeze in a breath of air against Bismack Biyombo’s long stretched hands. The moment JR released the ball, it was all air. On the Raptors possession with his arms tangled with Channing Frye, on a loose ball shot, Bismack jump into the air and tap the ball right into an open space and grabbed the ball in his hands. That was the last two plays that sealed the game.
When Bismack was drafted by Charlotte as seventh overall pick. The Hornets (formerly Bobcats) expected so much of him. His rookie year came out a dismal one as Bismack found himself soaking more time in the bench rather in the court. After his rookie contract, Charlotte let go of Biyombo.
In the NBA, we saw a lot of talents and opportunities wasted. Longevity defines your career much as your legacy. There are two types of players in the NBA, the superstars and the role players. The moment you realize that you will never be the superstar type, is the moment of acceptance and finding that niche that can make you indispensable in a team. For Biyombo, realization came in later on his career.
As a teen he travelled from Congo to Qatar, then to countries like Yemen, Jordan and Lebanon until he settled in Spain. But it was only in Charlotte that came out clear to him – He would never be the offensive threat that he hoped for.
The former defensive player and Hall of famer, Dikembe Mutombo came out the last of the dying breed of shot blocking players who can dominate the game without scoring. In the 1994 playoffs the Seattle Super Sonics was the number one team in the west and they played against Dikembe’s number eight seed, Denver Nuggets. After Denver down two games to none, Dikembe vowed to win the series. While everyone thought Dikembe was crazy, Denver won three straight games (best of five series). Blocking 31 shots and made players hesitate when Dikembe was in the middle. Mutombo could have easily won as the defensive player of the year, had they won the championship all the way. If only Denver had surrounded him with shooters.
Bismack is lucky to have two superstars in Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan. When Jonas Valanciunas got injured going to the Western Finals, Bismack finally found his true calling. Game three, he grabbed 26 rebounds, four blocks and scored 7 points. In game four he grabbed 14 rebounds and 3 blocks, and became the vital factor in sealing the Raptors win.
Finally Bismack has found his niche. When everyone thought he would be the next NBA bust like Hasheem thabeet, he wagged his finger “Dikembe” style.
On Game three, in the end of the game, Bismack was on his knees grasping for air, after Dahntay Jones hit him in the groin area. Moments before that, Tristan Thompson swung his arms hitting Lebron James in return when Biyombo and Thompson tangled their arms together. The Cavs and NBA had feared this will come.
Toronto had just found their Dikembe.