Everyone is so happy for him. This is perhaps the most revealing element regarding Pascal Siakam's unlikely rise from NBA nobody to an all-star game starter in three short years.
They know the person, they know the story and they know what it means.
Nobody becomes an all-star on their own, but Siakam's unusual path has found a village with followers who all see something of themselves in the success of the likeable 25-year-old.
And when Siakam was announced – as expected – as an all-star game starter on Thursday evening, it was a shared moment that drives people around him because they know where the journey started. He finished third in the Eastern Conference fan poll, and after the media and player votes had been taken into account, the Cameroonian boy nodded.
It's almost hard to believe, but it's true – and who doesn't like stories like that?
So Kyle Lowry was proud to be wearing a Siakams logo sweatshirt when the Raptors set out for their team charter in New York City before their game here against the New York Knicks on Friday.
Therefore, Siakam's older brother Christian pressed a flight to New York on Thursday morning to make sure that he would be with his younger brother for the time being.
"He can't be alone [for]," he said.
For this reason, Raptors veteran Serge Ibaka, who comes from the Congo and knows that Siakam has traveled from a French-speaking African country into the rare air of the NBA, was placed in the hope that his neighbor would have one in the locker room league-wide recognition.
"For me personally it is wonderful because I come from Africa as a [All-Star] starter," said Ibaka. "It's going to be big, not just for him, but also for other young players who look up to him in Africa." It will delight many people. As an African player, I always tell him what we do, it's not just for us. "
Fred VanVleet, who joined Siakam as a rookie in 2016-17 and regularly shared a DNP CD (not played, coach's decision) in this season's boxing classification, has the feeling that Siakam's triumphs have been determined Success – and every other teammate who went to Mississauga to play for Raptors 905.
"We're all taking a piece of it," said VanVleet. "We all went through everything together, mostly through these ditches, these dark times when we were sitting at the end of the bench. We all went through it together. To see him rise now, it's pretty cool." We all knew that he was a player, but that he was getting into that area [as a starter] after he wasn't there [before] that's the part I'm looking at, that's really cool. "
They just don't do such all-star stories very often.
Siakam took up sport as a secondary thought in his late youth. After moving to Texas, he was easily recruited by high school, spent three years at a small conference in the state of New Mexico, and had been selected by the Raptors as "energy type" in the late first round (27 in total) scored an average of 4.2 points per game as a beginner. Just two seasons ago, he had only got an average of 7.3 points from the bank and should be used in the third season as a rotation player in the training camp.
But alongside Kawhi Leonard – and often in the absence of Leonard – Siakam broke out.
Raptors & # 39; Striker Kawhi Leonard, left, talking to teammate Pascal Siakam (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)
And now? He is arguably the best player on one of the best teams in the NBA, and he travels to Chicago to play on one of the best stages in the sport – thanks in part to an average of 23.5 points per game, 7.7 rebounds and 3 , 5 assists.
Perhaps the only person who saw this coming was the man himself.
"I think for myself, I wanted to do more and more from the first day I joined the NBA," he said shortly after he found out that he would be an all-star starter. “I felt that the league was wide open for me to be one of the better players and we worked really, really hard. It wasn't easy and it's not easy – I thought one for [whatever] last night? This is always a trip.
“And I think it's just fun to have this support and to make people around me believe in me. And from the first day I was in the gym, I always say that my husband Rico [Hines, Siakam’s Los Angeles-based trainer] even my agent, from day one they saw it in me and I saw it in myself and therefore we have connected us so well. And I'm so glad it happens. "
There is only a hint of sadness. For all of Siakam's great moments, the person he wants to share with, but can't, is his father, Tchamo. It was his father who first dreamed big dreams and encouraged his sons to use basketball to develop and imagined that one of his four boys would play in the NBA. He died in a car accident on October 23, 2014, before his youngest son could realize his vision.
“It is an incredible man. I think you just have to think back to the trip, "said Siakam." I think back to my father, you know, I just take the risk and think, 'Man, I saw these guys on TV, they play with this orange one Ball, and it's fun, people are excited to watch them play, and it's so exciting.
“And he wanted and hoped and dreamed that one of his sons could do that. And I'm working so hard to send his sons to the US, get an education, play college ball, and hope to get to the NBA, and there I am. At this point in time, be able to win a championship and be an all-star, and not only start an all-star, but also start in the all-star game.
“I wish he was here. I hate it, every time there is a big moment it feels like something is missing. But I know, I know he's here, I know he's watching me. I can feel his presence. But I think it would be nice to be able to look him in the face and just tell him, "You did it. And we did it. "And whatever you set out to do and what you've worked so hard for is here and we're doing it at the highest level."
But so quickly? It is wild when you look back.
When Siakam's all-star break in the 2016/17 rookie season began, the attacker was officially a side effect of the Raptors' rotation. He sat behind DeMarre Carroll and watched the minutes go to Lucas Nogueira.
After the close of trading and the takeover of P.J. Tucker and Ibaka through Raptors hardly played Siakam in some games outside of garbage.
It has been a steady march to this moment ever since.
Even though Siakam has come this far, he never leaves his past behind and the path he has taken to get here is too far from his thoughts.
Before each game, he still recognizes his late father by the fact that he writes "10/23" on one sneaker and "RIP Dad" on the other.
He will no doubt do it in a few weeks in Chicago and write another chapter in an incredible story that few would have predicted, but everyone is happy that it came about.