The beauty of basketball is not in the popularity of the game, it is in fact in the heart of the player. All pro scouts and players know this, and this is why Festus Ifeanyi Ezeli is the subject of our Did You Know today.
Born in Benin City in 1989, Ezeli, was the model Nigerian child — an intelligent youngster with a bright future.
Ezeli was a bookworm, so unlike his counterparts in the NBA, he never played nor did he understand how the game of basketball worked till he was done with secondary school.
After his secondary education, Ezeli left for the United States with his parents at age 14, and the ensuing events would lead the Nigerian down a whole new path.
Ezeli was smart as a whip and could get into any Ivy League School he wanted. His parents wanted the teenager to study medicine. Unbeknown to his parents, he had found a new love; basketball.
Ezeli was offered a chance to study at Harvard University. However, he turned it down to study Biology with a major in Economics on a scholarship at Vanderbilt University, so he could learn more about basketball and develop his skills.
In 2012, Ezeli was drafted into the NBA by Golden State Warriors in Round: 1 / Pick: 30.
Three years down the line, Ezeli made NBA history helping the Warriors claims the 2015 NBA Championships title against LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers.
Golden State Warriors Vs Cleveland Cavaliers
Regular starter, Andrew Bogut, was out for the Warriors for a second consecutive game, and with the Cleveland Cavaliers looking to give the Warriors a good whooping with its All-Star line up, head coach, Steve Kerr, brought in his contingency plan, Ezeli.
Ezeli was tasked to incapacitate 7-foot-1 Timofey Mozgov and 6-9 Tristan Thompson, but the Nigerian was able to do more than just be the perfect big man. He scored eight of his 10-points in the crucial third period.
The 6’11 center converted a lob dunk from a pass by Draymond Green, to give his side an eleven point lead with only about 3 and a half minutes left on the clock.
He was also able to slam a put-back rebound in the same period, but was fouled by Mozgov. Ezeli quickly converted the free throw to hand the Warriors a 69-55 lead.
Cleveland Cavaliers came close on several occasions, but the Warriors held them at bay long enough to claim the 2015 NBA Championship title, with 105 to 97.
Featured image source: JustRich