Nikola Pekovic resembles someone straight out of the movie Gladiator.
The big Montenegrin has a reputation for being one of the toughest and strongest players in the league. Ironclad with 290 pounds of muscle, he is a bruising force in the paint that absolutely nobody wants to guard.
Pekovic has a tattoo on his arm of a medieval warrior resting over a bed of skulls. His grizzly beard and warrior-like haircut just add to his striking posture. He is such a beast of a basketball player that he doesn't even like the idea of shooting jump shots.
“I don’t use crutches” – Nikola Pekovic aka the toughest man in the NBA http://t.co/dkCpqIih11/13/2012, 8:43:19 PM
From the minute he showed up in Minneapolis, Pekovic's teammates were in awe of his stature. Some were cautiously optimistic and some were flat out scared. Wayne Ellington went as far as to say he was making him his "new best friend."
Unbeknownst to most outside the locker room, underneath Pek's rough exterior lies a surprisingly jolly and friendly guy. When he isn't setting bulldozer-like screens, (Brandon Knight sure has had a rough year, hasn't he?), Pekovic enjoys ice fishing in the piercing cold terrain of Minnesota.
From this interview, we see the softer side of the big man firsthand. He loves The Godfather, he loves fishing and he can bench press a bus.
Despite his physical prowess, Pekovic has been encouraged by teammates to be a more vocal player in the post. He has a world of talent going one-on-one in the post, and with his strength he is difficult to stop. Few centers in the league can slow him down, and Pekovic has been hesitant to call for the ball at times even though he is hard to miss.
Yet another example of Pekovic's "cuddly" side, (don't call him that in person), is this charming viral video. Not much needs to be said about this one. Any video of a 6'11" behemoth like Pek prancing through the deserts of Egypt is worth watching.
He also enjoys meat.
In all seriousness, Pekovic's value to the Timberwolves is immeasurable. He is heading into restricted free agency this offseason, and his teammates clearly love him on and off the court, just as the fans do.
Players like him don't come along very often. A bruising center with a heart of gold is just too much to lose.
After all, where will he go ice fishing if he leaves Minnesota?