Toronto Raptors fans will forever remember the one year wonder Bismack Biyombo and his infamous run that he went on in the 2016 postseason.
In 2015, Bismack Biyombo signed a 2-year $5.7 million with a player option in the second year with the Toronto Raptors. Unfortunately, after his breakout season, Bismack was offered a 4-year $72 million deal with the Orlando Magic which pushed him to opt-out of his player option.
Biyombo, having a Congolese background, is an addition that Masai Ujiri has come to be known for by grouping together a team of international origins with the hopes that their varying playing styles will bring an approach that can throw their opponents off guard.
His participation in the Giants of Africa game and his pride in his background has represented the growing diversity within the Raptors organization and Toronto as a whole.
Biyombo’s engagement and dedication to inspiring making a change, such as his mid-season campaign to changing the lives of the Congolese youth, captured the hearts of Raptors fans.
In his one year with the Raptors, Biyombo played all 82 games and averaged eight rebounds, 1.6 blocks, and 5.5 points in 22 minutes per game. But the real fun began in the post-season where Biyombo earned his 4-year offer.
After Jonas Valanciunas sustained a right ankle sprain during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Miami Heat, Biyombo took over the starting role. Raptors fans became worried with how the young 23-year-old would fair with the pressure of the role during the playoffs.
But he started Game 4 with a monster poster over Amar’e Stoudemire and wouldn’t slow down anytime soon.
It was Game 5 that holds a series of plays that have been imprinted in my head since that day my friends and I were surrounding my parents’ TV filled with hope that the Raptors just might be able to take a lead in the series.
The second quarter of Game 5 arrives and Bismack is in the middle of three Heat players. Here we see his craftiness and quick decision making at play. He decides to focus his pressure on Luol Deng, the biggest of the three, and box him out. He then proceeds to snatch the rebound and throw down a strong put-back dunk.
With the momentum swinging in favor of the Raptors, Dwyane Wade came slashing straight by DeMarre Carroll to attempt quick dunk transition dunk. But no. Bismack is business as usual and keeps the Raptors momentum by meeting him at the rim for a monstrous block. To top it off he throws a crowd-pleasing Dikembe Mutombo finger wag to make sure that people know he’s here for a reason.
To finish off the sequence that helped Biyombo gain that luxurious $72 million, Biyombo fills the lane late and, off a Kyle Lowry feed, throws down a Shaq-like, two legs up, two-hand throw-down. To help his case off as a Raptors fan favourite he tops it off with Usain Bolt’s “Lightning Bolt” celebration to get the Toronto crowd, even more, hyped up.
Onto the Eastern Conference Finals and the first time Toronto ever made it this far.
In Game 3 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Biyombo broke the Raptors postseason single-game record for most rebounds with 26. He only scored seven points but his work on the boards and the addition of four blocks pushed the Raptors to a 15 point victory.
Both games that the Raptors won in the Cavaliers series had Biyombo coming up in a big way. We saw all the key rebounds, energizing dunks and blocks, and the sheer swagger that he showed on the court.
Raptors fans weren’t too sure what to think of the addition of the young center at first. His presence was believed to bring a bit of defensive upside off the bench but no one could have predicted that he would play a key role on the then deepest playoff run in Raptors history.
To this day Biyombo remains a crowd favorite as he heard the cheers as he showed up on the big screens while sitting court-side at Game 6 against of the Raptors versus the Milwaukee Bucks 2019 Eastern Conference Finals.
To top it off he even went into an interview after the Raptors victory while holding Kyle Lowry’s youngest son in his arms and noting that he likes the match-up against the Golden State Warriors.
Bismack Biyombo’s attitude, swagger, and legendary 2016 playoff run solidifies him as one of the Toronto Raptors all-time fan favorites.