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Boris Diaw was once one of the game’s great athletes

Jun 15, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

2014 NBA Finals - Game Four Getty Images

Boris Diaw is in the Finals MVP conversation for the Spurs this year because of the way he’s facilitated that slick ball movement that’s been so unstoppable on San Antonio’s way to taking a 3-1 lead in the series.

He’s rarely regarded as being very athletic, and in fact, for the majority of his career, it’s been quite the opposite.

But there was a time when Diaw was one of the game’s most gifted athletes, with the leaping ability to match.

From Marc Stein and Amin Elhassan of

One of the more surprising aspects of the Diaw story is the way that his biggest fans — before they start dissecting the way he’s sneaked up on the Heat this week — are so keen to remind you that they once gushed over his athletic gifts. …

“Boris walks into the gym one day wearing flip-flops and holding his customary cappuccino, which was a staple for him every morning,” [Cavaliers GM David Griffin, formerly a member of the Phoenix front office] recalled. “It was during pre-draft workouts, so he sees the Vertec [machine] and asks what it is.

“We tell him it measures your vertical leap by determining how many of the bars you can touch. He asks what’s the highest anyone has ever gone, and we tell him Amare’ [Stoudemire] cleared the entire rack.

“Boris puts down the cappuccino, takes off his flip-flops and clears the entire rack on the first try. Then he calmly puts his flip-flops back on, picks up his cappuccino and walks away, saying, ‘That was not difficult.'”

These days, Diaw is as crafty as they come in getting to the hoop, and has an extremely high IQ that allows him to see the game unfolding a step or two ahead of his competition. It’s what allows for his spectacular passing that’s been a big key for the Spurs during this postseason.

No one is confusing Diaw with leapers like Kawhi Leonard or LeBron James with whom he shares the Finals floor. But apparently, there was a time near the beginning of his carer when that might have been the case.

  1. khadeemw - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    Yep…ppl forget he was a projected wing player…he put on weight playing center for mike d and then more when he was in the bobcats dog house…good to see him making an impact in this series

  2. udkidd - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    Hey played as a Center in Phoenix. He is 6’8.

  3. wwttww - Jun 15, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    Even Billy Knight’s right once a decade

  4. tphi31 - Jun 15, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    theres proof…diaw with the 360 on a alley oop from tony parker

  5. papichulo55 - Jun 15, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    Dias is one of the best stories of these otherwise disappointing Finals. If any teams are looking to copycat the Spurs, they should start with Diaw. Find players that fit, players that will be asked to do what they are good at. Silas wasted time and money trying to make Diaw a PPG player in Charlotte. Hats off to the Spurs for finding the right guy for the right job.

    • duhwighthoward - Jun 15, 2014 at 6:33 PM



    • imakcds - Jun 15, 2014 at 8:24 PM

      what’s disappointing about these Finals?
      You want the finest basketball on display, and that’s what the Spurs are giving you.

      • imakcds - Jun 15, 2014 at 8:25 PM

        sorry, duhwight, I posted before seeing your reply.

  6. kb2408 - Jun 15, 2014 at 6:16 PM

    It has all come together for Boris. His versatility is spectacular. Reminds me of Lamar Odom when he was in his heyday with my LAKERS. Both players can do it all on the court and help their respective teams in many ways that always show up in the box score.

  7. duhwighthoward - Jun 15, 2014 at 6:34 PM


  8. hoopsinla - Jun 15, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    Boris was very good in Phoenix and it was a mystery why he was let go. Phoenix was making strange decisions for some years after they lost Kerr.

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