Serge Ibaka confirms he won't return during series vs. Spurs

May 21, 9:09 PM

According to injured power forward Serge Ibaka, Serge Ibaka ain't walking through that door for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Not during the Western Conference finals, anyway.

Sidelined with a Grade 2 strain of the plantaris in his left calf, Ibaka was originally ruled out for the remainder of the postseason. Some, however, including the San Antonio Spurs, speculated that this was a smokescreen from the Thunder, and that Ibaka could return earlier than they were letting on.

That was fueled further on Tuesday, when reports indicated that Ibaka was aiming to return early, or at least push himself as hard as he could in an attempt to do so.

On Wednesday, ahead of Game 2 of the series, Thunder coach Scott Brooks poured water on that idea:

Also pouring cold water on it was Ibaka himself, who wrote on his personal blog: "I am not able to play in the Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs," in a message thanking fans for the support.

If the Thunder are playing mind-games, they're going all the way in doing so.

[Dap PBT]

July 29, 12:05 PM

Serge Ibaka says he's 'still not 100 percent' after suffering calf strain during playoffs

July 29, 12:05 PM

Game 3 of the Western Conference was something to behold as Serge Ibaka, who was initially ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs after suffering a left calf strain against the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round, returned to drop 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting.

Ibaka was obviously playing through pain until the Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs, and two months on, it turns out that he's still dealing with the injury.

"I'm not 100 percent back yet, but I'm getting better," said Ibaka in an interview with Bleacher Report. "I'm trying to get back in shape and it's going to take time."

The native of Congo will participate in the upcoming FIBA World Cup, although he'll be representing host nation Spain, where he was granted citizenship in the summer of 2011.

Feature photo courtesy of Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

July 1, 8:38 AM

Report: Serge Ibaka will play for Spain this summer, points to calf being healed

July 1, 8:38 AM

It appears as if Serge Ibaka's recovery from a Grade 2 strain of the plantaris in his left calf is coming along well.

Originally expected to be sidelined for a chunk of the offseason to rest, Ibaka's status for the late-August FIBA Basketball World Cup had been called into question. Not just whether he'd be able to play, but whether the Oklahoma City Thunder would be confident enough in the rehabilitation of his calf to allow him to.

Early Tuesday, Sportando reported that Ibaka will indeed suit up for the host country:

Though Ibaka was born in the Republic of Congo, he was granted Spanish citizenship in the summer of 2011, later winning gold at Eurobasket 2011 and earning a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics. He'll join the Gasol brothers, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon and a host of other players with current or former NBA ties as Spain looks to improve on its sixth-place World Cup finish from 2010.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Troy Taormina

June 1, 5:17 PM

Serge Ibaka was close to having calf surgery, still hopes to play for Spain this summer

June 1, 5:17 PM

Serge Ibaka may not have been enough to push the Oklahoma City Thunder past the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals, but they very nearly had to try without him.

Stuck in a 2-0 series hole, Ibaka's Game 3 return sparked a pair of wins for the Thunder before they eventually succumbed to the Spurs in six games.

Would the Spurs have rolled to a sweep if he didn't come back much earlier than expected from his calf strain? We almost found out:

Even with that near-surgery diagnosis, Ibaka is confident he'll be able to heal quickly and thoroughly enough to be ready for high-intensity action at the FIBA World Cup at the end of August:

That decision may ultimately be for the Thunder, not Ibaka, to make. The mode of rehabilitation for a plantaris strain is just rest, so if the Thunder don't feel Ibaka is fully recovered, it's unlikely they'd risk having him play in the tournament.

It's a few months away though, perhaps enough time for Ibaka to inch closer to 100 percent.

May 26, 5:10 PM

Serge Ibaka says he expects to play Game 4

May 26, 5:10 PM

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka had his Bernard King moment on Sunday, deciding hours before tip-off that he would play through the pain in his right calf to help his team in the playoffs.

The injury was supposed to eliminate him from the playoffs. On May 16, it was announced that he would miss the remainder of the postseason. Just 10 days later, he was in the starting lineup for Oklahoma City.

Ibaka's return proved to be the difference for the Thunder, who emerged victorious in Game 3. He was visibly hobbled, but he was effective nonetheless, scoring 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting while collecting seven rebounds and four blocks in 29 minutes of play.

On Monday, Ibaka provided an update on his condition (per ESPN): 

The good news is I'm not feeling worse, so that's good. I'm sure every day I'm going to feel better every day, but I'm not expecting to feel much better yet tomorrow. One thing I know, I expect to do a better job.

He also spoke about his experience in Game 3:

It was kind of hard a little bit with my feet. I was using more my right foot than left foot. I could not do too much last night because after we saw the video, I felt like I was slow, and I'm sure my legs, my coaches, they understand, and I'm going to try to do tomorrow I'm going to try to do better than last game.

Finally, he verbalized his commitments to his team, and the league:

When we sign here in the NBA, we sign on everything, man. At the end of the day, no matter what happened last night after the game or get hurt badly, I signed for this. I signed for this. The military, when they go out there to fight, when they sign, they sign for everything. No matter what happened last night, I signed for this. That's what I get paid for

Game 4 between the Spurs and Thunder will be played Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. ET. Ibaka skipped practice Monday, but he fully expects to play going forward.

May 25, 7:08 PM

Thunder head coach Scott Brooks says Serge Ibaka will start Game 3

May 25, 7:08 PM

Perhaps Tony Parker and the Spurs were onto something...

In a stunning turn of events, Thunder forward Serge Ibaka decided to play in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the San Antonio Spurs, according to head coach Scott Brooks.

Ibaka was seen gingerly hoisting jumpshots at shootaround. He stated earlier on Sunday morning that the determinant for his play on Sunday was a matter of pain tolerance.

If he is able to play at full capacity, Ibaka's return would provide a huge boost to Oklahoma City's defense which has conceded a whopping 234 points to the Spurs over the first two games of the series.

Through 13 games played this playoffs, Ibaka is averaging 12.2 points 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.

May 25, 12:20 PM

Thunder's Ibaka participates in shootaround, says decision to play Sunday night is his

May 25, 12:20 PM

Some good news from the Oklahoma City Thunder's morning shootaround on the Serge Ibaka front.

Ibaka's "Willis Reed moment" could come in Game 3 of the Western Conference final, though we should probably temper expectations for a guy who was ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs a week ago.

May 24, 3:30 PM

Thunder's Ibaka has faith (in God) he'll suit up for Game 3 vs. Spurs

May 24, 3:30 PM

With Game 3 of the Western Conference final just over a day away, Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka is still holding out hope he can suit up against the San Antonio Spurs.

Ibaka had this to say to reporters at Saturday's shootaround, via Jeff Caplan of NBA.com.

I’m a tough guy, I’ve been through a lot when I was young. Since I come here, nothing was easy for me. So I know it’s going to be tough. But I will put my mind ready. If the doc gives me the OK, I will be ready to go.

I am the kind of guy, who, I believe in God, and when the team doctor told me I am going to be out for the rest of the playoffs, I did not believe it because I believe in God, and I know I’m here for a reason. So I want to just keep pushing, keep putting ice, do what I can control.

Ibaka wore a black sleeve on his injured leg at Saturday's shootaround. He said he hasn't jogged, run, jumped, or practiced with his teammates. 

Ibaka continues to wait for the green light from the team doctor to play, but he's made it clear he's willing to play through pain in his injured left calf.

“Whatever it take, man, whatever it take, whatever it take, whatever my teammates need from me and my body lets me go,” Ibaka said. “Whatever it take, I will be there for my teammates.”

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Jim Young

May 23, 12:46 PM

Ibaka progressing, Thunder change status to day-to-day

May 23, 12:46 PM

Serge Ibaka was ruled out of the Western Conference final with a strained calf, but the Oklahoma City Thunder want to rewrite the story against the San Antonio Spurs.

The team announced Friday that Ibaka is now listed as day-to-day, "with the understanding that there is a possibility for him to play in this series."

Yes, a real possibility. The team's release notes swelling in Ibaka's calf has reduced significantly and unexpectedly, and he's able to do light basketball drills.

The initial timeline for Ibaka's recovery was established by both physical and imaging exams, and the level of swelling indicated a certain degree of injury at that time.

There's a "strong possibility" Ibaka suits up in Game 3 on Sunday, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. With the Thunder trailing the series 2-0, time is of the essence. 

May 20, 10:47 AM

Report: Serge Ibaka determined to return early from injury

May 20, 10:47 AM

Several members of the San Antonio Spurs seemed skeptical when Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka was ruled out for the rest of the postseason with a calf strain.

Turns out, they may have been right to be skeptical.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports explains:

Far from the beginnings of these Western Conference finals, far from these unfortified Oklahoma City Thunder, Serge Ibaka is defiant and determined for the world to witness his Willis Reed moment. Ibaka, so proud, so professional, is respectively raging against his injury diagnosis.

Ibaka is back in Oklahoma City for Games 1 and 2 – ruled out of the playoffs with a lower leg injury – but his willingness to play with pain, his loyalty to the championship cause, has him thinking about starting some stationary shooting late this week, a league source told Yahoo Sports on Monday.

Wojnarowksi did go on to throw some cold water on the prospects of Ibaka returning for the Western Conference Finals:

Deep down, Ibaka understands his medical timetable couldn't possibly include a return to these conference finals, but no one has yet talked him out of the belief he'd be back in the lineup if the Thunder advanced to the NBA Finals, a source said. The Thunder believed this injury would be a one-to-two-month recovery period. Without a tear in that plantaris muscle, though, Ibaka wants to believe it can be sooner.

The Thunder missed Ibaka in a big way in the opener of the Western Conference Finals, letting the Spurs score at will in a 122-105 loss. 66 of San Antonio's points came in the paint, and Tim Duncan had a comfortable 27 points in 29 minutes.

"Missing Serge is pretty tough," Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson said. "…[You can get] a little lazy having somebody that is an eraser back there like that, altering so many shots. …Your body tells you a few things – "just send them Serge's way." We have to get out of that mindset."

Thunder head coach Scott Brooks wanted no part of any Ibaka speculation after Monday's loss: "He's not coming through those doors. … He's not coming back."

Even still, every Thunder fan is surely holding out hope that they'll see Ibaka come through the tunnel before time runs out.

May 18, 2:56 PM

Spurs seem unconvinced Serge Ibaka will miss playoffs

May 18, 2:56 PM

The San Antonio Spurs shared some interesting thoughts on their upcoming playoff series with Oklahoma City following practice Sunday, as injured Thunder forward Serge Ibaka was a main topic of conversation.

The Thunder have said Ibaka will not make the trip out to San Antonio for Game 1, but don't tell that to the conspiracy theorists on the Spurs.