Recently a lot has been said and reported on active NBA players and teams beating all-time records and the implications in league history, however there is a potential record breaking coming up.
Last month, 34-year-old Kobe Bryant overcame Wilt Chamberlain’s mark of 31.419 points – set in 1973 - to become the NBA’s fourth all-time leading scorer, and he has yet to announce his retirement.
Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928) and Michael Jordan (32,292) have scored more points than Bryant throughout their NBA careers.
Let me introduce another NBA record-break in the making which may happen sooner than most expect, and should not be overlooked.
It’s author? The 23-year-old, Republic of Congo-born Serge Ibaka who has blocked more than 750 shots over four NBA regular-seasons.
Very few players had ever blocked as many shots at his age.
Last week, just on the verge of the NBA post-season, Ibaka – who plays internationally for Spain and is commonly called "Air-Congo" - recorded a season-high eight blocks to become the league blocked-shot leader, overcoming Milwaukee Bucks’ Larry Sanders.
He currently averages 3.1 swats per game.
Ibaka could not have finished his swatting mission without “baptizing” Sanders on the Thunders’ 109-99 on road win.
Ibaka’s latest performance shows he is growing to the level of NBA All-time block leaders Hakeem Olajuwon (3830), Dikembe Mutombo (3289), and Abdul-Jabbar (3189) who all closed out their NBA careers in their late thirties or early forties.
Is Ibaka able to reach or beat the NBA blocks mark? Well, right now he is on the right path to do it, especially because of his young age and the fact that he’s already made a significant bit of his blocks challenge.
Some may argue he cannot be compared to Olajuwon, Mutombo, or Abdul-Jabbar, but looking thoroughly into their stats I feel compelled to do it.
Surprisingly or not, 6-foot-10 Ibaka is slightly shorter than any of those NBA legends, and – with almost four NBA seasons under his belt - I dare to compare Ibaka’s defensive prowess to the Hall of Famers mentioned above.
Just like Ibaka, Mutombo averaged over three blocks in his fourth NBA season, however the Thunder’s forward has been more efficient offensively with 13.5 points per game than Mutombo’s 11.5 points per game.
Not long ago, ESPN NBA pundit Jeff Van Gundy said Ibaka should not impersonate Mutombo’s finger wave to celebrate a blocked shot just because they are both from Africa.
Well, like it or not, Ibaka seems to have gained authority to swipe opponents from the Thunder’s rim quite flawlessly.
For Ibaka to reach Mutombo’s career-high 4.5 blocks per game in his fifth NBA season or even overcome Olajuwon or Abdul-Jabbar he just needs to remain healthy and focused.
Although his latest eight blocks is a remarkable accomplishment, it remains slightly far from his career- high 11 swats recorded in a 124-118 overtime win over the Denver Nuggets in February last year. In that game, his performance rocketed to the NBA annals as his first career triple-double (19 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks).
By dominating and defending the rim the way Ibaka is currently doing it places him as one the most fearless NBA defenders ever.