Roy Hibbert remembers the days when he was a young center in the NBA, learning from his coaches, mentors and seasoned veterans of the game.
A veteran that nobody thought would make it in the league because he was too slow, he was raw, he had bad footwork and couldn’t stay out of foul trouble. He knew he had a long road ahead if he ever wanted to sustain an extended professional basketball career.
None of it bothered Big Roy. He worked his tail off. He continued to work his tail off. Every summer, every training camp session, every practice and every game, Hibbert battled to become the All-Star-caliber center he is today.
A year ago, Hibbert played the role of an experienced mentor. The 7-2 Georgetown product made it to where no one thought he would: starting for an NBA title contender.
Hibbert was asked to do more, however. Following the 2013 NBA Draft, a couple new faces were roaming around the Indiana Pacers facilities. One of them was rookie Miles Plumlee, the Pacers’ first-round draft pick out of Duke.
Plumlee is an Indiana boy. That didn’t mean he was ready for the NBA. That didn’t mean he was a finished product. Plumlee was, and still is, raw offensively. He does possess some other skills that allow him to compete in a professional setting, a couple of which he learned from Hibbert, his former mentor.
Plumlee can block shots. He is good enough defensively and he can be a tremendous rebounder.
Pacers fans weren’t happy with the selection when Larry Bird drafted Plumlee in the first round. It takes time for some guys, especially those that come later in the draft and need to continue to develop their game.
Nevertheless, Hibbert can be mentioned in the circle of those that have helped Plumlee find his way in the NBA. Indiana traded Plumlee this past offseason, along with Gerald Green, to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Luis Scola. It was a win-win for both clubs as the Pacers seek a championship and the Suns look to rebuild around young guys.
Plumlee is one of those young guys. He is the Suns’ starting center and will face Hibbert Wednesday night when the Indiana Pacers take on the Phoenix Suns. Let the best (big) man win.