Raptor fans and fashionistas might be wondering why Drake didn’t consult Serge Ibaka before he had those commemorative NBA championship jackets made for his favourite team.
What prompts this question is a piece by Lauren O’Neil for Fresh daily. In the story, O’Neil smartly makes the case that “it's hard to think of any other person living in Canada right now with as much actual international fashion cred as Ibaka, male or female, athlete or not.”
O’Neil makes a strong case for Ibaka’s fashion status:
- Serge is the only professional Toronto athlete who has ever appeared on Vanity Fair’s annual list of the best-dressed people…on Earth
- He actually looks like a model and is one for Prada, Givenchy and Kenzo
- Ibaka also reps for Gucci, Valentino and, as O’Neil emphasizes “for freaking Balmain.”
- ESPN has hailed him as one of the NBA's most fashionable men and he’s a GQ style section regular
- Finally, the Congolese-Spanish born 30-year-old shows up at Hugo Boss and Tiffany & Co. events; rocks Paris fashion week (“in a Thom Browne skirt” writes O’Neil); has his own underwear line (which he helps design) and hosts a very entertaining YouTube cooking show.
There’s more (a portion of the underwear sales go toward the athlete's Serge Ibaka Foundation), but you get O’Neil’s point (on Sunday, Ibaka paid a surprise visit to a group of kids from the Regent Park Community Food Centre. According to CTV News, the six-foot-ten Raptor tasted four dishes and wowed the kids).
And, O'Neil didn’t mention his “improving with age”on-court play. As Doug Smith of The Toronto Star pointed out recently Ibaka’s dedication to fashion has not interfered with his play for the 4-2 Raptors, who host the Sacramento Kings Wednesday.
“He remains a tireless worker,” writes Smith, who has covered the team for all of their 25 years, “and is often the last player out of the gym on practice days after working with developmental coaches on a variety of drills. That work is paying off not only for him but for his team.”
Raptor coach Nick Nurse tells Smith “I give (Serge) a lot of credit. His skills have gotten better in the last 18 months: his ball handling, his catching, his delivering, his swing pass and … his (dribble-handoff) offence. And then again — I always say this — when Serge really gets going, he’s an intimidating factor out there, when he’s revved up and going. We’re tough to beat when he’s going.”
As O”Neil says: “Serge Ibaka is definitely it.”
So, if Pascal Siakam proves to be the the second coming of Kawhi. If OG Anunoby stays healthy and develops. If Kyle doesn’t wear out (or get traded). If Masai Ujiri pulls a rabbit out of a hat. If all these “ifs” lead the Raptors to repeat as champions…maybe it's time to let Serge do the designing.