NBAE via Getty Images
Dec 11 2013 10:53AM
Hi everyone from snowy and cold Oklahoma City. This past weekend the world has learned about the passing of Nelson Mandela. Everyone knows how big of a figure he was in the history of human rights and equality in Africa and the impact he had in the whole world. I think itís impressive that all the remembrances of him after his passing have been unanimously positive worldwide.
Everyone agreed on how important he was in recent history, and kind words where said and written everywhere the past few days. Thatís a sign that he was really an inspiring person, one of those few people that are able to change the course of history with their work, kindness, wisdom and faith. The last two summers I have travelled to South Africa with the NBA, as I have explained before.
During the past two Basketball Without Borders in Johannesburg I have been able to learn a little more about Mandela Ėin the picture you can see me at the Nelson Mandela Square-. I wish all of us would make an effort to learn more about him. As an African I believe we have the obligation to keep Madiba's legacy and, most important, his beliefs and thinking, alive.
Serge Ibaka Says OKC Fans are the Best in the NBA
Nov 12 2013 5:47PM
Hi everyone. This is my first Iblogga since the season started. I write this as I pack my bags for a three game road trip. We started the season with two away games and then headed back home in OKC for our opening night.
I am sure many players in the league might say this, but I am positive we have the best fans in the league. They showed us they had been waiting for us for months. And we had been waiting to play in front of them too. Another thing that makes Thunder fans special is that they never stop supporting. I mean, when a game is really tough and in an adverse situation, they push us to keep fighting.
This is what happened in our last game against the Wizards. We were down twelve points in the last quarter but we kept trying and trying and it finally paid off in overtime and we got the win. It was a very important game for me, too. After a slow start I needed a good game and Iím glad that it happened on a home win.
Oct 31 2013 4:43PM
Serge Ibaka went through a flood of your fan questions to answer about this coming NBA season. The African superstar weighed in on a wide range of subjects. Here are the second half of questions he answered.
Serge Ibaka: Kevin Garnett.
Serge Ibaka: No, but Iíd love to go. Iíve only been to Toronto in Canada.
Serge Ibaka: That would be fun!
Serge Ibaka: Yes, I love soccer and tennis.
Serge Ibaka: Coming to America.
Serge Ibaka: I am sure. He is very talented and will be a great player in the league.
Serge Ibaka: To keep studying and have goals. And to keep supporting the Thunder of course!
Serge Ibaka: I know I will put the best effort to do it.
Serge Ibaka: It means a lot. My first NBA experience in a city that is passionate about the team and that has always been so nice to me. I have many friends here. I love OKC!
Serge Ibaka: I want to keep getting better and help the team win a championship, and I want to be in the All Star game.
Serge Ibaka answers your fan questions from Twitter
Oct 29 2013 4:09PM
Serge Ibaka went through a flood of your fan questions to answer about this coming NBA season. The African superstar weighed in on a wide range of subjects including how the OKC Thunder will do this season to his spectacular halloween costume. Here are the first half of questions he answered.
Serge Ibaka: AvecClasse is an attitude that all my family and friends from Congo have!
Serge Ibaka: Ballhandling and footwork.
Serge Ibaka: Akeem from Coming to America. Check the picture!
Serge Ibaka: He is a great player and they will be a tough team to beat.
Serge Ibaka: I visited and got to know them. They are genuine and very nice.
Serge Ibaka: AbsolutelyÖ Stay tuned!
Serge Ibaka: Steven is huge and very talented. He works hard and Iím sure he will help us this season and in the future.
Serge Ibaka: I would probably want to be singer or some kind of performer.
Serge Ibaka: I had a goal and was focused on reaching it!
Serge Ibaka: Post moves, ballhandling, conditioning.
Serge Ibaka: There are so many tough players in the league! Pau Gasol is really tough to guard because he is long and very skilled.
Serge Ibaka: My first game at home and the day we beat the Spurs to make the Finals.
Serge Ibaka: Go to the movies, RedPin Bowling, try new restaurants, go to Church.
Serge Ibaka: I went to Cabo this summer for the first time and it was great. Very relaxing!
NBAE via Getty Images
Oct 28 2013 10:12AM
Hi everyone! I'll be taking questions from my fans on Twitter on Monday and sending back answers before we tip-off against the Jazz on Wednesday.
Want to ask a question? Send it in via Twitter using hashtag #iblogga!
(Editor's Note: If you don't get the reference, click here)
NBAE via Getty Images
Oct 24 2013 7:25PM
The 2013-2014 season is just a few days away.
>> International Fans: Get a Free Trial of NBA LEAGUE PASS From Oct. 29 - Nov. 5!
This will be my fifth year in the NBA and my personal goal is to improve in all aspects of the game and continue to increase my responsibilities in the team. This is why I worked very hard individually this summer. After a needed period of resting and getting my body right after a very hard and demanding season (reason why I could not play with Spain this summer) I focused on a detailed plan to improve specific parts of my game.
I also worked on conditioning and getting my body stronger and ready for another season. I tried different things that I hadnít done in the past. One of them was boxing. It helped me work on my core and strength and also on my quickness and footwork. I have to say it was very useful and also fun. It became a routine I was able to do in Miami, Las Vegas and even in Congo when I went there to be with my family.
Itís all about working hard and getting better every day!
Serge Ibaka and the OKC Thunder put on an exhibition game for local tornado victims
Oct 17 2013 11:23AM
Hello everyone! After coming back from Europe, training camp has continued here in Oklahoma City. We have played our first preseason game in our home court. Itís always good to see our loyal fans live and play for them, even If itís just a friendly game.
But, for me, the highlight of the week was to go to Moore, Okla. for a team scrimmage. As many of you will remember, a big tornado went by Oklahoma last summer, and Moore was one of the most damaged places.
I went there just a few days after the tragedy and it was sad to see heartbroken people go through a very difficult time. Since then, the franchise, my teammates and myself have tried to help as much as possible many of the families affected by the tornado. To be able to be back this week was one more way of us trying to make a positive impact on their community.
>>MORE FROM MOORE: STORY | PHOTOS | VIDEO
The open practice was a success. The gym was packed and many young fans had the chance to see us play and even interact with us. If we were able to make kids happy for a couple hours the trip is already worth it. These people are tough and brave and we can already see progress in the town. I really hope we were able to contribute in Moore and I certainly do know that we will continue to put effort into helping this town get back on their feet. After all, we are all part of the same team - Team Oklahoma.
Serge Ibaka wraps up his preseason travel with the NBA Global Games in Manchester
Oct 11 2013 6:09PM
Hey everyone! Back in Oklahoma City. We resumed training camp here at our practice facility after coming back from Europe. After Istanbul, our second and last stop for the NBA Global Games was Manchester. This was my second time in the city, I had been there in July to participate in the NBA 3X and promote the game with the Thunder.
Everyone knows the NBA is a global brand that is known worldwide but still, there are places where basketball is more or less popular. Of course, in the UK soccer is the number one sport. This is why it was important to be there to help promote not only the NBA but also basketball as a sport. The atmosphere in the city and at the arena during the game was amazing and I can tell basketball is a growing passion in the UK. It was a big event for many fans that donít usually have the chance to see the NBA live and from interacting with them you could tell they were genuinely excited.
I was also excited to be back and get to know the city a little bit more. I even had the chance to go to an African restaurant and also had some typical fish and chips that I never had before. As far as the team, the trip, although it was short, was useful to bond as a group and make the new guys more comfortable and ready to the system. Each day in training camp itís an opportunity to grow as a team, and I think we are doing that. Oh, and we also won both games we played in Europe, so that was good!
Now a seasoned pro, Serge Ibaka talks about how nervous he was at his first Media Day as a rookie.
Oct 2 2013 12:36AM
Hey everyone from Oklahoma City. Iím finally back home after a long and busy summer. Training camp has started a couple days ago and I couldnít be happier. I love being on the practice court with my teammates and starting a new challenging season.
A few days ago we had Media Day here in OKC. It was fun - the usual stuff that we as players are used to do once a year. Well, Iím used to it now, of course. I know most of the media and I am also familiar with the photo and video shoots and tapings that we have to do with the Thunderís crew.
But that wasnít the case when I did my first Media Day back in 2009. I was new to the city and I didnít know the teamís staff or teammates. I didnít even know the language very much to be honest. I knew how to pose for pictures of course but I was a little nervous about doing interviews and talking to the camera. That was my first Media Day ever in my career!
Now, this has been my fifth on. I canít even believe, If I look back, that this has become a routine almost. I was very young (19) and had a lot to learn. I feel much more grown up and confident nowadays which is beautiful. Check out the two pictures, from 2009 to 2013 and tell me If you agree that Iíve changed! One thing is for sure, though, my passion for the game and my excitement to start the season hasn't changed.
Serge Ibaka reflects on all the places he visited.
Sep 24 2013 10:45AM
Hi everyone! A few days ago the NBA published a map of the players who traveled around the world this summer, check it out.
I have to say I'm very happy to be one of the players that has been to the most places in the offseason. It is obviously not a competition but I feel proud and at the same time privileged to be able to do this - especially because none of the travel was just for vacation. I had the chance to go to Asia for the first time in my life, that was huge. I went to South Korea to visit the Goyang Orions basketball club and visit and help the young players there as you can see in the picture.
It was a long but exciting trip and a good experience to get to know a different culture. I also went to Manchester for the NBA 3X and to Spain as I do every summer. My African Tour was long and very complete too: Angola, Congo, DR Congo and South Africa. All the trips had one purpose - help develop basketball and encourage kids to work on their games and have positive lives. I want to think I helped them in some way, and one thing is for sure, I will try to keep my name on that list for many years to come.
Serge Ibaka pays homage to the legendary shotblocker that's been a source of inspiration to him.
Sep 9 2013 6:40PM
Hello everyone. I took a trip down memory lane recently in Johannesburg during the Basketball Without Borders camp. The moment captured in the picture, where Iím with legend Dikembe Mutombo and fellow NBA player Bismack Biyombo, brought to me a very vivid memory of what was a huge day for me.
In June 2008, I was in New york City for the NBA Draft. There, in the stands of the Madison Square Garden Theatre, I waited for hours to hear my name called by commissioner David Stern and make my dream come true.
But before that happened, nervous as I was, an NBA executive handled me a phone and told me someone wanted to talk to me. It was Dikembe. He told me to stay calm and gave me advice for my career, which has been very useful. I will never forget that. Nowadays we meet regularly at NBA related events and he keeps being an inspiration for me and other players like Bismack. Just as I hope someday I can be an influence on other kids like the ones we met at BWB recently.
Serge Ibaka heads to Johannesburg for the annual Basketball without Borders camp
Sep 3 2013 2:09PM
Hi everyone from Johannesburg, South Africa. Iíve been here the last four days taking part in the Basketball Without Borders Africa, a camp that gathers some of the best prospects in the continent to practice with and learn from NBA coaches, players and staff.
This is the third time I have participated in Basketball without Borders. The first one was 2010 in Barcelona. That was a great camp, not only because it took place in my city (in Spain) but also because I saw firsthand what the NBA is capable of doing in just four days. The impact on the young players is huge, as they get to work on fundamentals but also hear from great professionals about what it takes to make it as a player. I remember, back then, three summers ago, that I talked to the kids but I was still a player trying to make an impact in the league. I was not the same player I am now and didnít have the confidence I have now.
The second time was last summer in South Africa. This was obviously a great experience because It was the African edition and there were players from the Congo and neighbouring countries. I felt blessed to be part of the group of people that can give advice to young people. And not only players, but also people from the communities that we were able to visit, last year and also this past week in my third camp. Nowadays, I have found my place in the NBA and have more moral authority to talk to these kids. But, anyway, the message is the same: work hard and stay focused If you have a dream.
Serge Ibaka returns to his hometown in Congo and relives fond memories from his childhood.
Aug 28 2013 9:47AM
Hello everybody. The past few days I have been visiting my country, Congo, and my hometown, Brazzaville. Itís difficult to express in words what it means to me to be back home, in the same streets where I grew up. Seeing my family and my friends, many of whom I only see once a year, is something that gives me great joy.
When Iím there, I like to do the little things that remind me of my childhood. Even though life was not easy growing up, the times spent with friends, just being a kid trying to have fun, were the best. In this trip, I tried to do some of the same things I did years ago, before I couldnít even dream of playing in the NBA. I was able to eat at Chez Alice, a local restaurant that I used to go to with my family.
And I also had time to play pick-up basketball at the Chaminade school court with my friends from many years ago. The court is old and banged up, and the rims are not like the ones at an NBA arena. There was almost no light because it gets dark soon in the summer. But still, it was a great time. I felt like a kid again. A kid playing with his friends during a summer night and not worrying about anything. Just having a good time.
NBAE via Getty Images
Aug 8 2013 2:44PM
Hello everyone. Iím back in Barcelona, Spain, after my trip to Angola for the NBA Sprite Camp.
I have been participating in NBA Camps and events for the last three summers and I have to say that every time I enjoy it better. There are two reasons. First and most important, I have the chance to help young players develop their game. There are many talented players that benefit from having NBA camps and clinics every year; and itís great to be part of that every year and see evolution of basketball worldwide and specially in Africa.
Second, I get to visit countries and cities that I had never been to before. This time, I was able to visit Luanda in my first time in Angola. Itís a beautiful city and country, so the experience was great.
I feel like I want to add experiences like this one every summer, which helps you to keep growing as a person, getting to know other cultures and meeting many interesting people. Thanks to basketball, I have been to Asia, many parts of Europe (Spain, France, UK, Italy), and of course all over the USA and to many African countries. I hope I get to know many more countries before and after I retire!
NBAE via Getty Images
Aug 2 2013 2:29PM
Hello, everyone, from Luanda, Angola! Iím here to participate in the NBA Sprite Development Camp, which gathers some of the best young African basketball talents for a three day event.
My good friend Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls is here with me and we are both excited. To me, it feels unreal to be on the other side of a basketball camp -- the side of the professional basketball player that tries to give advice to young players. Not too long ago I was one of these players.
Coincidentally, yesterday was the first day of another basketball camp, adidas nations, that is going on in Los Angeles, USA. Adidas nations was my first big basketball camp, back in 2007. It was an international camp and I was part of Team Africa. It was my first international experience, playing against some of the best american high school kids like Byron Mullens or Lance Stephenson. I was just a kid from Brazzaville that had flown to the USA for the first time.
I was overwhelmed but had very clear goals in my mind, as you can see in the video. And I remember very well having some NBA players and coaches at the camp, telling us to work hard and stay focused. Now I find myself saying many of the same things to this African young players here in Angola. It is amazing how life changes: that is why I keep telling these kids to work for their dreams, because everything is possible.
NBAE via Getty Images
Jul 31 2013 2:25PM
Today, the Spanish National Team started preparation for the Eurobasket 2013, the European Championship that will take place in Slovenia in September. As you all know, I became a Spanish citizen three years ago and played with the Spanish team in the Eurobasket 2011 and the 2012 London Olympics.
This country means a lot to me -- I became a professional basketball player in Spain. Spaniards adopted me when I left Congo as a teenager and Iím very grateful for that. Unfortunately, I will not be able to play with them this summer, because my body needs a rest after many years of nonstop basketball. But I will be cheering for them and Iím sure they will be very good in the tournament. In fact, they are my favourite team to win the gold medal -- I hope I'm right.
Right now, I'm in Spain, staying in shape and resting my body at the same time. In a few days I will start a long trip that will take me to different parts of Africa. It's a trip I'm very excited about and that I will write about extensively in the Iblogga.
Jul 25 2013 10:59AM
A few days ago I had the great opportunity to travel to Manchester with the NBA. I went there to participate in the 3X Tournament that takes place in many different countries in the world and also to promote the game I will play there with the Thunder against the Sixers in October. I have to say that the trip was great. The passion that the British kids showed during the event was amazing.
I was able to see first hand what the NBA means for a lot of people that donít usually get to see the league first hand. Everybody was excited and treated me very well, and I had fun watching the tournament and interacting with the kids. The game of basketball is more global nowadays than ever, and you can tell it keeps growing - especially in countries with a big passion for other sports like soccer in the UK. The trip was my second visit to the UK after playing the London Olympics last summer, and I feel very well there. Fortunately I will be back there soon when we play in October with the Thunder. Iím looking forward to it!
Jun 26 2013 6:36PM
Serge Ibaka was born in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, on September 18th, 1989, to a family with strong ties to sports and basketball. Serge is the son of two basketball players: his mom, Amadou Djonga, played with the national team of the Democratic Republic of Congo and his dad, Desiree Ibaka -- also a member of the National Team -- played professionally. Basketball is definitely in his genes, and Serge started to play with a basketball from a very early age, spontaneously, trying to emulate his parents' and his older friends' skills.
Childhood in a civil war affected country was not easy but Serge, who had to overcome difficult moments such as his momís passing and war related conflicts, always kept his basketball passion alive, and from a very young age dreamed of becoming a professional player and of being able to help his huge family of 17 brothers and sisters.
At 16 years old he started playing organized basketball with Avenir du Rail, his neighborhood team, and he started to establish the foundations of his game with coach Maxim Mbochi. He quickly became one of the most interesting players of his country, and was called to take part in the Junior National Team from Congo that was going to compete in the junior African Championship in Durban. Serge was named MVP after finishing as the top scorer and rebounder in the tournament. That same year, Avenir du Rail loaned him to Inter Club, a senior team. Still a junior player, he played with Inter the senior National Championship of Africa, and was named best center and was the best rebounder.
Serge had become one of the best prospects in Africa but never stopped thinking about getting better, progressing and playing at the highest possible level. And he did. After a short stay in France and a long bureaucratic period, he headed to Spain to start his career. On March 19, 2007, Serge arrived at Hospitalet (Barcelona) and joined the junior team of the city club. His impact was immediate, and the team won the state junior Championship of Catalunya and qualified for the Spanish tournament. From that moment on he wasnít a secret outside of Africa anymore.
That summer he was invited to the adidas Nations basketball camp in New Orleans as part of the African team. It was his first trip to the USA and he took advantage of it: he was the best player on his team and one of the best in the whole camp, which gathers the best young players in the world. After a summer of hard work and dedication, Serge joined the senior team of C.B.Hospitalet that competed in the Spanish second division, the LEB Gold. As the youngest foreign player in the league, at 18 years old, he finished the season with averages of 11,8 points, 8,3 rebounds and 3,1 blocks per game (best in the league in blocks).
During the season many NBA scouts visited him and saw him live and in April he took part in the prestigious Hoop Summit in Portland, an under 19 game, playing for the international team that played against the USA (he had 8 points and 8 rebounds in the game). In June, he attended the Eurocamp in Treviso, where he convinced everyone of his potential and was again named MVP. His name was already on almost every NBA teamís agenda, so he decided to make himself eligible for the NBA Draft. On June 24th, 2008, he was chosen with the 24th overall pick by the Seattle SuperSonics.
But Serge decided to keep developing and growing as a player in Spain and signed with Ricoh Manresa of the ACB League, becoming the youngest foreign player to ever play in the league. His first season in Europeís best league ended with averages of 7,1 points, 5,5 rebounds and 1 block in 16 minutes per game. After a season in the ACB, he decided to make the leap to the NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The 2009-2010 season was Serge Ibakaís first season in the worldís best league. During the regular season, he earned a spot on the interior rotation of the Thunder, and played 18,1 minutes per game in 73 games and making an impact on the teamís first round matchup against the Lakers in the Playoffs.
In his second season in the NBA he earned a spot in the Thunderís starting five in mid season and finished the season with a total of 198 blocks, more than any other player in the league. In the Playoffs, he helped the Thunder reach the Conference Finals for the first time in their history. On that same season, Serge participated in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest at the NBA All Star Weekend in Los Angeles, another childhood dream come true. In the summer of 2011, he received the Spanish citizenship and he played with the Spanish national team in the 2011 European Championships and the 2012 London Olympics, winning the gold and silver medals respectively.
On October of 2011, during the NBA lockout, he signed a two month contract with Real Madrid in Spain. When the NBA came back to action, he returned to the USA and joined the Thunder for his third NBA season. Then established as the starting power forward and as a key part of the teamís defense, he helped the Thunder achieve the leagueís third best record. His block totals earned him a spot in the NBAís best defensive team for the first time in his career. In the playoffs, Serge was a key part of the Thunder again, and they reached the NBA Finals for the first time in history.
In the summer of 2012, he signed a four year extension with the Thunder and travelled back to his home country to celebrate. His journey back to his roots
inspired him to keep working to become the best player possible.
The 2012-2013 season saw the Thunder become the best team in the Western Conference and Serge contributed to a 60 win season and he finished as the leading shot blocker in the NBA for the third straight year.
Serge Ibakaís journey from Congo to the NBA was fast-paced and intense. It was a path built on passion for the game of basketball, marked by the ambition to achieve his dreams. Only five years had passed from the start of his journey in Africa when he played his first NBA game. He arrived to the worldís best league to stay, with the goal to get better every day and grow as a player season by season. Off the court, his goals are to stay true to his roots and to serve as an inspiration for the African youth that fell in love with basketball the way he did and that are willing to use sports as a powerful tool for social change.