Everyone is so happy for him. That’s perhaps the most telling element about Pascal Siakam’s improbable rise from NBA nobody to All-Star game starter in the space of three short years.
They know the person, they know the story and they know what it means.
No one becomes an all-star on their own, but Siakam’s unlikely path has picked up a village worth of supporters, all of whom see something of themselves in the likeable 25-year-old’s success.
And so when Siakam was – as had been expected – announced as an All-Star game starter Thursday night, it served as a shared moment that elevates those around him because they know where the journey started. He finished third in Eastern Conference fan voting and, after media and player votes were factored in, the kid from Cameroon got the nod.
It’s almost hard to believe, but it’s true — and who doesn’t like those kinds of stories?
It’s why, when the Raptors headed onto their team charter for the trip to New York City before their game here Friday against the New York Knicks, Kyle Lowry was proudly repping a sweatshirt with Siakam’s logo on it.
It’s why Siakam’s older brother, Christian, squeezed himself onto a flight to New York Thursday morning to make sure he would be with his younger brother for the moment.
“He can’t be by himself [for] this,” he said.
It’s why Raptors veteran Serge Ibaka who – hailing from the Congo – understands Siakam’s journey from a French-speaking African country to the rare air of the NBA was moved at the prospect of his locker room neighbour getting league-wide recognition.
“To me, personally, it’s beautiful, because coming from Africa, as an [All-Star] starter,” Ibaka said. “It’s going to be big, not just for him, but for others, young players who look up to him in Africa. It’s going to inspire a lot of people. I always tell him, as an African player, whatever we do, it’s not only for us.”
It’s why Fred VanVleet, who broke in with Siakam as a rookie in 2016-17 and regularly shared a DNP-CD (did not play, coach’s decision) designation in the box score that season, feels like Siakam’s triumphs are in part his success — and every other teammate who made the dri