How Pascal Siakam regained his place among the NBA elite

The journey that led the Raptors and their star players to such an exciting place began with an epidemic. It was uncomfortable for everyone, but for Siakam, who is concerned enough about germs and doctors and hospitals that even a relatively routine arthroscopic shoulder procedure frightened him, the possibility of a global pathogen was a brain-curling moment. When the Raptors came back from their last pre-epidemic road trip, wrestling with NBA patient Zero Rudy Gobert, the fear was obvious. “Oh, he was terrified,” said Christian Siakam, who lives with his brother. “The whole time we were isolated, waiting for his test. He was scared.”

When the lockdown hit, Siakam took it to heart, falling between the handsome brown stones shared with Christians in Bathurst and Lawrence. Because of his visa situation, moving to the United States – where his teammates and most other NBA players were able to find workout benefits relatively early in the epidemic – was not an option. There were no trips to the grocery store, even, and as the only six-foot-nine NBA player in the neighborhood who protects his privacy, a mind-clearing walk was not on the menu. It was movies, video games, cards and online piano lessons – and no basketball training. The Raptors equipped the players with in-house fitness equipment, but this was not an ideal situation. “I was just telling you [Ujiri, Raptors president] My concern is that Pascal could not work. Like any other player, he’s going to gain weight, he’s going to be out of shape and he’ll have zero rhythm when the season starts again, “said Todd Ramaser, Siakam’s longtime agent. “There won’t be enough runways to get back in shape and everything else. The situation was not like, ‘Hey, friends, you’re going to hide in this gym at Drake’s house or somewhere else.’ There was none of that. There was zero solution because everything was closed. “

When Siakam was finally able to cross the border and prepare for the NBA’s August 2020 resumption, his agent’s concerns were realized. “We were joking,” Ramasar said. “It simply came to our notice then [his huskier brother]. You have a donkey now. ‘

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