This coming season will be Milwaukee Bucks center Serge Ibaka’s 15th in the league. At 33, he’s already considered a veteran, and there are things he used to do when he was 23 that he’s no longer doing today, especially with his body.
Like everybody else, Ibaka also learned some tips and hacks from the veterans, and he revealed one that a former teammate taught him back when he was still with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Getting natural energy
Ibaka was well aware that as athletes get older, metabolism slows down, and they can either do extra workouts, rely on fat-burning supplements, or just simply watch their diets. According to “Air Congo,” he chose the natural way as introduced to him by his then-Thunder teammate Derek Fisher.
As per Ibaka, Fisher would eat fruits before games to get “natural energy” without compromising his diet and jeopardizing his health.
“An hour and a half before games, I always eat fruit—a banana, an apple, and an orange—because I’m trying to get natural energy,” Ibaka told GQ in 2017. “You get natural sugars and natural energy from that.”
“Every year you learn something,” he continued. “Sometimes, it's from the vets on your team—eating fruit is something I picked up from Derek Fisher [in Oklahoma City]. Also, as you play more years in the league, you start learning from your body. You know when you eat something and your body feels good, so you keep it going.”
Setting an example
Ibaka is the type of player who never settles with what is in front of him. He constantly absorbs everything he feels will be beneficial for him. In the process, he became humbler and wiser.
It can be recalled that last season, Ibaka didn’t mind demoting himself to G-League to give himself some playing time after recovering from injury. At the time, he was already cleared to play for the Los Angeles Clippers, but Ivica Zubac had already established himself as the team’s primary big man.
Fortunately, Ibaka managed to get back to the NBA with an important advice to everyone. Ibaka said that if you are not a star and you sit out for too long because of an injury, you need to work your way back to the game because nobody’s gonna hand it to you.
“At least if you’re Kawhi [Leonard] or Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry, those kind of guys they can sit for three years and they’re going to come back, [teams are] going to give them minutes, they’re going to give them — they’re going to try to get them their confidence,” Ibaka pointed out. “At least if you are one of those guys, you can stay, but if you’re not one of those guys…sometimes you have to work for yourself to go get your confidence because nobody is going to give you that.”
Having heard Ibaka’s approach in his career, it’s safe to say that “Air Congo” might age, but his mentality will always be the same.