“It's good … but it's boring,” Igor said through his improving English, which is his sixth-best language (behind Spanish, French, Catalan, Tshiluba, and Swahili).
“When you know that (many languages),” Grover said, “you can tell someone is intelligent.”
And despite the language barrier, Igor has connected with teammates. Point guard Derrick Frye, from Atlanta, called Igor a “cool dude” who loves to dance.
“Me and him got a lot of dances on Instagram and stuff like that,” Frye said.
And it helps to connect with a group of basketball players when you have a brother starring in the NBA.
“We play (NBA) 2K a lot,” Frye said. “I pick Miami, he picks OKC and he's always saying, ‘Serge, Serge, Serge, that's my brother'. That's all he wants to play with. Shoots with him every time. Last game, I think he had like 40 points with Serge. He'll give it to (Kevin) Durant every now and then, but you know it's going back to Serge.”
Igor and Serge were close growing up and have worked out together some the past couple offseasons (“He's a little shorter, but we have a similar game,” Serge said). But with busy and overlapping in-season schedules, neither gets much of an opportunity to see the other.
However, this past week, with a quick break for Thanksgiving, Igor was able to get down to Oklahoma City. They had a family feast on Thursday, and Igor got a courtside seat for Friday's wild Thunder win over the Warriors.
“It was good week,” Serge said. “Him down here, spending time, having fun, eating African food like always when we are together. It was good.”
Now, Serge hopes to get up to one of Igor's games to check out how Oklahoma's other basketball-playing Ibaka is developing on the court.
“He's really watching me, learning from me, seeing what I do and try to get it and put in his game,” Serge said. “I'm proud of him.”