Words by Jesse Serwer—
Should the Indiana Pacers upset the defending-champion Miami Heat in tonight’s Game 7 0f the Eastern Conference finals tonight, this year’s NBA Finals will hinge on a battle between a 7-footer from St. Croix, USVI, and a 7″2 son of Jamaican and Trini parents. Not only does Tim Duncan vs. Roy Hibbert have the potential to the best big-man Finals matchup since Jamaican-born Patrick Ewing of the Knicks squared off (and lost) against Nigerian Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets n ’94, but a Spurs/Pacers Finals would probably be the biggest look for Caribbean players in the NBA ever.
If the Pacers do beat the Heat tonight, it will likely be on account of Hibbert, who has been awesome throughout the playoffs this year, and particularly so against Miami. Regrettably, Hibbert’s press conference after Saturday night’s game showed a lack of tact for which he has been fined and crucified in the media. But the 26-year-old’s poor choice of words after a long game shouldn’t overshadow a performance that has seen him emerge as one of the NBA’s top big men. Back at the start of last season, we ranked him at No. 7 in our Top 10 countdown of the best Caribbean players in the NBA.
Hibbert improved immensely that season, making his first All-Star game appearance, and, though he didn’t receive the same recognition this season, he has made a huge statement with his play throughout the playoffs. When it comes to Caribbean players in the NBA, you would have to put him in the top 3 right now, right next to his potential Finals nemesis Duncan and Carmelo Anthony—whose Knicks were just eliminated by Hibbert and the Pacers.
Due to his size and his background playing four years for Georgetown, Hibbert has occasionally been likened to fellow yardie, Patrick Ewing (as well as fellow Hoyas Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo; like the latter, he’s not afraid of self-parody, as his Parks and Recreation cameos attest). Whether the Pacers complete their upset of one of the strongest NBA squads in history tonight or not, this will go down as the season that Hibbert truly became “the new Ewing.”