Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert played his college ball at Georgetown University. The school’s campus is located in the heart of Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital.
That’s enough exposure for anybody, no matter the individual and no matter the sport. For Hibbert, it was a big-name school playing in a major college basketball conference. He was a lanky, un-athletic big man that was asked to block some shots, get some rebounds and try to make a couple baskets around the rim each game.
He did just that. And still does.
After the draft day trade, O’Neal was never the same player again that he was with Indiana. The Pacers acquired O’Neal from Portland years before, and watched him develop into an annual All-Star.
But now, the team had their sights set on Hibbert. They wanted Big Roy to develop into the next successful big man to wear the blue and gold.
For the first couple seasons, the 7-2 Hibbert couldn’t stay on the floor. He fouled out, it seemed, once every handful of games. It felt like he was in foul trouble every night. He wasn’t quick enough, not strong enough and couldn’t play defense without fouling.
Things began to change, slowly but surely.
Before anyone knew it, the summer of 2012 rolled around. Roy Hibbert’s rookie contract was up, and it was decision time for the Pacers. Portland jumped in and offered him a max contract — 4 years and $58 million. It was Indiana’s turn; were they to match it or let Hibbert walk?
The team matched the offer sheet from Portland; Hibbert stayed in Indy.
For so many games last season, in the first year of his new contract, Hibbert struggled offensively. Indiana earned the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, and the country watched Hibbert dominate all three Pacers opponents in the playoffs.
He turns it on when he needs to turn it on.
Roy Hibbert is still inconsistent offensively, but his defense is always there. He has become one of the best shot-blocking, rim-protecting players in the league.
Critics can say all they want about Roy, but it isn’t like he doesn’t know his own flaws. As this season nears playoff time, expect a similar effort from Hibbert as crunch time rolls around. That’s when it’s his time to shine.