Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert is a true nerd in every glorious sense of the word. How else to explain Sports Illustrated only being able to catch up with him while he was busy promoting Call of Duty: Ghosts and other Activision titles as a true video game buff?
But here’s the thing: He’s also a huge basketball nerd. He studies, he scouts, he practices — and he has been doing so under the tutelage of the legendary Tim Duncan.
He wants to get better, and he wants to develop into the best of what some are calling a dying breed as a true NBA center. His Pacers pushed the defending champion Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, and Hibbert averaged 22.1 points and 10.4 rebounds in the process.
He got to know the gameplay and the habits of superstars LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of coach Erik Spoelstra’s team.
First, Sports Illustrated asked Hibbert about what he does to get better, then they asked him to elaborate on what he and Duncan share as colleagues.
Maybe we are the last of a dying breed, but more and more people want to go work out with Hakeem Olajuwon and work on their post moves, you know? That’s great in the summer, but you have to do it during the season as well. So I worked with Tim Duncan on my face-up game and I worked on it a lot, but you tend to revert to what you know as the season gets going.
Well, I met [Duncan] when I was a kid — in 2001 during the NBA All-Star Game in D.C. I actually had a chance to meet him, and he actually remembers that moment. So that was pretty fun. We talk, text, share, like, scouting reports on other teams and things like that. I sent him mine for the Heat. Just a friendship.
As of writing, the Spurs are locked at two games apiece in what has been an epic Finals showdown with the Heat.
Has Hibbert’s scouting been of assistance to the future Hall of Famer?
With his 16th season just about in the rearview, Duncan was going to need all the help he could get to overtake LeBron and Co. and win his fifth career NBA title.
Hibbert has no problem admitting he is helping Duncan get there.