Just ten days ago the devastating news went out; Serge Ibaka suffered a grade 2 strain of his left calf and was expected to miss the rest of the playoffs. It’s like the life went of the Oklahoma City Thunder. They lost their best defender and rim protector. His calf was so swollen the MRI couldn’t fully detect the severity of the sprain but Thunder general manager Sam Presti decided ruling him out publicly was the right call.
Then something changed. The swelling went down and the MRI showed a much milder prognosis. Ibaka began walking, training and soon was on the court getting shots up. On Sunday as the Thunder prepared for a must win game on their own home court, coach Scott Brooks announced that not only would Ibaka play, but he would be a starter.
His return was much needed as he not only hit the first shot of the game, but he went 4/4 giving the Thunder a much needed spirit boost. The Spurs no longer just waltzed to the rim as Ibaka rang up 4 blocks. All in all he finished with 15 points (6/7 from the field), 7 rebounds, the 4 blocks and 1 steal.
So what contributed to his miraculous return besides pure perseverance?
— Serge Ibaka (@sergeibaka9) May 26, 2014
“As soon as I heard, I didn’t feel comfortable being anywhere else,” Hilson, who is based in Atlanta and Los Angeles and met Ibaka through a mutual friend, told USA TODAY Sports. “Even though he didn’t say it, I knew he needed me. I needed to do anything I could to put a smile on his face. He didn’t have a smile on his face all week. It was very hard. It was really hard. He’s one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever seen in any field, one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever been able to witness. (Rachina) was as much his nurse as I was. She cooks. I do the TLC and cook a little bit. We had to be there for him.”
– Shaina Auxilly (@Shay_Marie)