Serge Ibaka was embarrassed.
At first blush, it was as counter-intuitive a scene as one could imagine considering the miracle moment that had just transpired. The Oklahoma City Thunder big man had saved this series, come back from the calf injury that was supposed to end his season and sent a scare into these San Antonio Spurs while cutting their Western Conference Finals edge to 2-1.
And the huge man in the light brown fedora and see-through shirt was embarrassed. Not by his game or even his wardrobe, but by his sister.
Long after her brother made the most of his Willis Reed moment in a 106-97 Game 3 victory, Rachina Ibaka kept yelling to the Chesapeake Energy Arena rafters while Serge smiled ear to ear and begged her to stop.
“Woooo, woooo,” she yelled with a thick French accent while dancing and taking proud pictures with his small group of friends. “Woooo.”
“Stop it,” he kept saying. “Stop it.”
It was the only time he didn’t get what he wanted all night.
Ibaka’s statistics (15 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 30 minutes) will never measure the true impact of his return, but the meaning behind his miracle moment went deeper for this group than all the rest. Rachina Ibaka had played the motherly role all week long, teaming with Serge’s significant other, singer Keri Hilson, to get big Serge back in working order in time to shock the basketball world.
Here was the sister who grew up with him in the Republic of Congo, one of either 11 siblings (according to Rachina) or 20-plus (according to Hilson) joining forces with the American woman who had played such a big part in his new life for two years now. A cherished member from his daunting past was serving as support with this special someone from his present, and the happy ending they had all hoped for to boot.
“God and ice,” Hilson said with a smile when asked how they did it. “God and ice.”
SOURCE: Sam Amick