"Pek's the strongest guy in the NBA," Wolves guard JJ Barea said. "You could ask Dwight."
Or Andrew Bynum, the 7-footer who played for the Lakers last season and didn't enjoy slamming into the Pekovic wall one bit.
"Thank God they took Pekovic out of the game," Bynum said after the Lakers win.
It's been all about opportunity and comfort for Pekovic. His first season in the United States was a frustrating one while he got acclimated to a new home, new rules and new teammates. He only played 13.6 minutes a game and struggled to get a handle on the new offense.
Serbian Darko Milicic was on the roster, and he helped Pekovic with the transition, introducing him some Minneapolis residents from back home and even referring him to some restaurants for some familiar food. It may have been Milicic's biggest contribution in his 2 1/2 years with the Wolves. Milicic frustrated coaches with his work habits and turned off teammates with his sour demeanor and many were relieved when owner Glen Taylor signed off on using the amnesty provision on his contract to get rid of him.
Caught in the middle, Pekovic was sorry to see his friend go. But he also knew it was probably for the best.
"He's a good friend and I miss him," Pekovic said. "He and I hung out a lot, it was easier for me. But it was tough, had some tough moments with the team. But I just tried to be a good teammate."
Now he's on his own, but much more comfortable with his teammates, and his city, than he was when he first arrived.
"They're all great guys, really good (people)," he said. "Especially (Andrei) Kirilenko and Brandon (Roy) bring some more experience on the court. You can see how it's a different team on the court."
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