#Pacers #Frenchdeal #Currygoat[/caption]
By Angel L. Quiles Jr.
The Indiana Pacers have had an amazing season this year. They were able to achieve their team goal of having the best record in the Eastern Conference. Paul George and Roy Hibbert both made it to the N.B.A. all-star game. Their head coach Frank Vogel coached the all-star team. However, none of those things would have been possible if not for their strong bench play. One of the unsung heroes coming off the pine this year was backup center Ian Mahinmi.
Mahinmi’s trek to the N.B.A. began in the streets of France where he was born. His father is from Benign, Africa and his mother is from the island of Jamaica. He speaks Jamaican patois, French and English fluently. He admits even though he grew up in France, a city renowned for its fabulous cuisine. His favorite kind of food is Jamaican. “Nothing is like my moms curry chicken, curry goat, that’s what I know that’s how I grew up” Said Mahinmi. He seemed proud when discussing his folks. So I asked him if his parents were his heroes growing up? He said, “Yes, I love my family, my sisters and I respect my parents very much”
As a youngster Mahinmi played two sports, basketball and soccer. Jokingly I asked how someone from France learns how to play basketball? He gave a huge chuckle and said, “What do you mean? It’s like anywhere else. You play on street ball courts, or with your neighborhood teams, but I will admit soccer is a lot more popular” I asked him why he stopped playing soccer? “At the age of twelve or thirteen I grew really fast, really quickly. I remember that I started the year with a favorite pair of jeans, and almost midway through the school year they didn’t fit me anymore, that was tough on me, and I realized I should focus on basketball”
Ian’s size captured the imaginations of various professional French basketball teams. At the age of sixteen he was playing professionally amongst fully developed men. Was it tough for him as a youngster to compete against these men? You bet your bottom dollar. “Yes, yes! I think it was one of the reasons why I was drafted at 19, it helped me a lot playing against grown men at such a young age” said Mahinmi. He explained that a few of them helped him along his journey and mentored him. One was French star Ricardo Greer and another was Pat Duran. Mahinmi credits them for helping him develop his overall game, body and mentality.
During his time in France fashion became a passion for Mahinmi, and two years ago he launched his own fashion label French Deal. The clothing for French Deal is actually designed by Mahinmi, and fashion designer Steeven Kodjia. Together they have developed a line of men’s clothing that caters to all men. No longer will kids have to be frustrated for growing quickly like Mahinmi, as long as his line is around. “The clothes are made for men like me, and men of all types. A lot of guys are wearing my stuff, and are coming back for more. We have sold clothes in the United States, Paris and Rome.” Said Mahinmi. If you are interested in viewing the line you can log on to www.frenchdeal.biz.
Ian was drafted 28th overall in 2005 by the Spurs, and was excited to be joining a team spear headed by one of the greatest players of all time Tim Duncan, and his countryman Tony Parker. During his days in San Antonio he learned many lessons from living greats head coach Greg Popovich, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. One lesson learned was professionalism. Another one was fearlessness. I asked Mahinmi if he felt the Pacers team goal of acquiring first place in the Eastern Conference to attain home court, would make a difference in getting to the N.B.A. finals? He said “No, it’s nice to have a number one seed, but you still need to be able to win on the road”
Ian Mahinmi played in 77 of the Pacers 82 regular season games this season. He provided interior defense while Roy Hibbert was on the bench. He played hard every time he was on the floor, blocked one shot per game, and shot over 48% from the field in the 16 minutes per game that he averaged. He also carried himself with the confidence of a champion on the court. Something he attained in 2011 as a member of the N.B.A. finals champion Dallas Mavericks. I asked him what he needed to do personally to help the Indiana Pacers win the championship in 2014? “It’s not what I need to do, its what the team needs to do, but I will continue doing all the little things that are necessary for us to win.”