To say Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert is jacked may be an understatement. His latest Instagram photo shows him standing next to San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan — who Hibbert has trained with the past two offseasons — and fellow Pacers teammate Ian Mahinmi. Hibbert stands 7-foot-2 while Duncan and Mahinmi are both 6-foot-11, which is only a three inch difference, yet Hibbert seems to tower over them. It could just be the camera angle, but I believe it has more to do with his improved muscular physique.
Hibbert came into the NBA as a scrawny player who was somewhat unathletic. You could tell he was still figuring out how to play basketball in his 7-foot-2 frame. It seemed to take him three full NBA seasons before he was able to use his height advantage properly, which resulted in his first All-Star appearance during his fourth season. He then began training with Duncan last offseason and his footwork was vastly improved this past season.
But Hibbert still lacked the strength to push around defenders and keep offensive big men from backing him down. That’s where his new training and diet regimen comes into play. In a little over two months, Hibbert has transformed himself into an even scarier version than what we got a glimpse of during last season’s playoffs. Oh, and it’s something fellow NBA fans are beginning to take notice of.
Pop over to any NBA forum and find the threads talking about the above photo. Miami Heat fans, New York Knicks fans, Brooklyn Nets fans, even Boston Celtics fans have expressed their dismay and terror over seeing the new Hibbert.
For Pacers fans, Hibbert’s dedication has never been questioned. His abilities, yes, but his dedication to improving his game and taking responsibility for his mistakes have made him an easy fan favorite. I for one thought he would never amount to much as I listened to fans celebrate his rare double-double nights at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for four seasons. Double-doubles for a 7-foot-2 basketball player should be child’s play. But then Hibbert won me over during the second half of last season and made me forget about everything in the past with his playoff performance.
The Pacers have built a solid foundation with Hibbert anchoring the post. He will need to continue to improve his shooting, but it doesn’t appear anyone will be backing him down anytime soon. I think it’s safe to say the Pacers’ championship odds just got that much better.