words // Brandon Richard
It's fitting that this year's leading shot blocker cites one of the league's all-time great shot blockers as his basketball hero. Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka is channeling his idol Dikembe Mutombo to the tune of 3.11 blocks per game this season, including three games in February in which he posted 10 or more. The connections between these two men run deep; not only can they both claim to be or have been adidas Basketball athletes, but their Congolese backgrounds will forever link them in the annals of NBA history.
As a tribute to Mutombo, the adidas design team has added the classic African mud print used on his old signature sneakers to Player Exclusive shoes made for Ibaka. Most recently, Ibaka was presented with a "Congo" version of the adiZero Shadow at the adidas V.I.P. Suite during NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando. The shoe featured adidas' High Energy All-Star colorway with gold print details on the toebox, upper part of the eyestay and heel. Contrasting white stripes wrap around the heel to finish off the look.
For more on the history behind adidas' use of the Mutombo print on Ibaka's PEs, read our exclusive one-on-one interview with adidas Basketball Footwear Category Manager Jack Grey.
You can buy the non-Congo version of the "All-Star" adidas adiZero Shadow now at shopadidas.