NBA

Pascal Siakam on his underdog journey and how his father has impacted his career

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 4: Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors looks on during the game against the LA Clippers on May 4, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Like many other high-profile NBA stars, Pascal Siakam found himself at the center of countless trade rumors this offseason. Naturally, such stories can be disorienting for players who wish to remain with their current teams. But for Siakam, it was quite the opposite.

In an interview with Sopan Deb of the New York Times, Siakam shared his thoughts on several topics. Namely, the Cameroonian forward told Deb that the surrounding trade rumors over the last few months haven’t been bothersome at all.

“It didn’t bother me really, because I never really heard anything from the Raptors. Even all the news I was seeing it was never like: ‘Oh. The Raptors wanted to give up Siakam for this.’ It was always like, ‘The Warriors like Pascal,’ or it was always, ‘The Kings like Pascal,’ or this.

There was never nothing where it was like, ‘The Raptors wanted to give away Pascal.”

Pascal Siakam

The NBA is a business. Unfortunately, many, including Siakam’s former teammate, Demar DeRozan, often end up on the wrong side of that business via unwanted trades. But Siakam projects to enter the 2021-22 season as a member of the Raptors, unscathed by such a trade.

His connection with Toronto and the front office likely played a role in this. When asked to describe his relationship with the Raptors organization, Siakam happily reflected.

TAMPA, FLORIDA - APRIL 05: Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors looks to pass the ball during the first half against the Washington Wizards at Amalie Arena on April 05, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

“I think [the relationship] is growing, obviously. Because I just think that for me, I feel the love. Obviously, Masai, we go way back and I’ll always have a ton of respect for Masai and everything he’s done for [Africa].”

Pascal Siakam

Siakam also shared the connection he has with the city of Toronto.

“Coming to Toronto, I always felt like it was a perfect mix. Me and Toronto was always perfect because, OK, I’m international, I love the diversity about being in Toronto. I understand being an underdog. Toronto always feels like it’s that underrated type of city. The people always feel like they never get respect from the general American media.”

Pascal Siakam

Underdog journey

Siakam’s experienced his fair share of low moments so far in his five-year NBA career. From averaging 4.2 points as a rookie to then winning an NBA championship as a key contributor, Siakam has triumphed over some steep obstacles as the underdog.

After making his first all-star team in 2020, Siakam’s rapid growth came to a staggering halt in the Orlando bubble. Again, he found himself an underdog amidst inconsistent play and extreme criticism on social media.

“I’m a really prideful person and I always want to be the best player that I can be, and the bubble wasn’t that. So I get it, I understand it, but also for me what really hurt me is one of those things about my dad or like, ‘Oh, your dad wouldn’t have been proud of this.”

Pascal Siakam
TAMPA, FL- MAY 6: Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors smiles during the game against the Washington Wizards on May 6, 2021 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images)
Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images

Siakam’s father, who passed away in a 2014 car crash, has been an integral part of his son’s journey to NBA stardom. He described his everlasting relationship with his father to Bleacher Report in 2019.

“I ask myself what my father would think of me making it to the NBA every day. I hope he’s proud. I hope he’s watching down and realizing that his dream became a reality.”

Pascal Siakam

Since saying that, Siakam has won a Most Improved Player award, an NBA Championship, and made an all-star team. He’s done more than enough to make his father proud and looks to continue doing so in the future.

“And I think there’s another level that I can definitely get to. And for me, I definitely see myself as an All-Star. Potentially, wanting to be a most valuable player in the league one day. But for me, I do think that there’s definitely a lot more to unleash into my dream that’s going to take me to the next level.”

Pascal Siakam

Siakam and the Raptors begin their season on October 20. With several notable roster changes, Siakam will have an opportunity to take that next step and show why the Raptors made the right decision not to trade him.

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