Siakam perfects soccer spin on court
TORONTO — Pascal Siakam may have patented his spin move on a basketball court, but the near unstoppable play has its roots on a soccer field.
Soccer was Siakam’s first love. In his native Cameroon, it was soccer that kids generally dreamed of playing professionally, not basketball. But Siakam’s three older brothers and his father, who was ahead of the curve with dreams of his boys making the NBA, were basketball players and fans, and eventually the game caught on with the 24-year-old, too.
But Siakam didn’t leave everything behind when he made the switch. The spin that has become so integral to his game this season bears resemblance to a move in soccer sometimes known as “the Maradona,” named after Argentinian great Diego Maradona. It’s a two-footed, 360 degree forward-moving twirl that was used to propel the midfielder past defenders with ease.
“That’s the soccer background,” Siakam said on Danny Green’s podcast Inside the Green Room last week, when chatting about the success of the spin.
He echoed that stance Wednesday night after the Toronto Raptors’ 113-102 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, an uncharacteristically quiet six-point night for the power forward, who has reached double digits in that category 19 of his past 21 games.
“Always, I’ve always done that,” he said. “As long as I remember, I always got that.” Even with a ball at his feet?
“All that,” Siakam said.
The move doesn’t come without practice, but after all these years, he has developed an instinct for it.
“I think my thing is my first step is pretty quick, so it’s hard to recover from my first step. And that’s why I can always spin, because I’m (going to) beat you with that first step. (The defender) is off balance and it’s hard to recover,” he said.
More playing time — Siakam is averaging 29.9 minutes so far this season as a starter, compared to 20.7 minutes last season with the second unit — helps, as does confidence. Siakam is shooting 77.5 per cent at the rim, 55.7 per cent between three and 10 feet and is 8-for-8 between 10 and 16 feet. His 69.6 two-point field-goal percentage leads the Raptors.
The theatrics have helped bring more attention to Siakam and his game, between landing on highlight reels and an uptick in media interviews. But he told reporters in Cleveland last weekend that he hasn’t yet noticed teams trying to take opportunities away from him now that he is taking on a bigger role within the league-leading Toronto team.
For now, though, the fun-loving Siakam, who goes by the nickname “Spicy P,” seems to be delighting in the fact that his favourite move is catching fire. He likened it to a “jalapeno in a blender,” when chatting with Green and recently retweeted a post by a fan comparing the move to a scene in the television show “The Office” when character Dwight Schrute used a “spin move” of his own to duck by a receptionist and into a meeting with between a client and a rival salesperson.
“That’s funny,” Siakam commented on the video, with a number of laughing emojis to boot.
Siakam seems intent on using the move to his full advantage, as long as it keeps thwarting defenders, which he hopes it does against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night as he tries to bounce back from an off-game.
“You can predict it sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you can stop it.”
Raptors forward Pascal Siakam uses the spin to get by opponents and often in position for the dunk.