Mohamed Bamba’s rookie season took a rough turn when tests revealed that he suffered a stress fracture in his left leg. However, the 7’0″ center sees a silver lining in the injury. Bamba tells Hoops Rumors that he believes his time off the court has given him a perspective that he may not have gotten otherwise.
“It gives you kind of a third eye,” Bamba explained. “Being out and having to watch your teammates perform and you see things that you wouldn’t see [if you were on the court].”
Orlando cannot afford to waste any time with Bamba’s development. Starting center Nikola Vucevic is a free agent at the end of the season and while the team wants to bring him back, the 28-year-old center will likely have many suitors. A Vucevic departure would thrust 2018’s No. 6 overall pick into a critical role.
Bamba, who remains in a walking boot, is optimistic that he will be able to play again this season. However, Orlando is taking a cautious, patient approach to managing his injury. Despite his inability to suit up, Bamba continues to stay engaged with the team in preparation for the next time he’s able to play.
Bamba’s rookie year hasn’t been a typical NBA freshman season. While he’s progressed on the court through his first 47 games in the league, he also saw off-court opportunities that most rookies don’t get to experience, including his appearance on HBO’s The Shop alongside LeBron James, rapper Drake, and other sports stars.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that not many people get to do. When I got word that they were thinking about me being there, I couldn’t believe it,” Bamba said of the chance to appear on the show. “…We talked about a lot [during the episode]. We talked about the game, the evolution of it and what we all attribute to that.”
The big man is also the subject of the successful rap anthem “Mo Bamba” by his childhood friend Sheck Wes. Wes, who only needed about 20 minutes to make the Bamba-inspired song, sent the audio track to the big man once his final version was complete, the 20-year-old tells Hoops Rumors. Despite the unique exposure, Bamba remains humble. Bamba added that he doesn’t feel any resentment from his teammates concerning his rap fame.
“I’m pretty sure if all the veterans on the team wanted their own song, they could do it,” Bamba said. “It’s nice to have something that a lot of people my age enjoy listening to.”