As he prepares for his 11th year, Ibaka enters an NBA season as the reigning champion for the first time. And after having waited a decade to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy, the veteran forward opened up about what it was like to be on top of the basketball world.
"Too good," Ibaka said. "It's a beautiful thing. For the athlete. We spent a lot of time, we worked so hard. Sacrificed a lot of things. Winning is a beautiful thing."
Toronto's championship celebration was, at least momentarily, interrupted by Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard's decision to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency. On Wednesday, he revealed how he found out about Leonard's move: "Like everyone else."
Ibaka hosts a cooking series on YouTube called How Hungry Are You? Last season, the Republic of Congo native had Leonard as a guest on his show, where "penis pizza" was on the menu. Ibaka touched on that episode as well.
"It was pretty cool because I didn't expect him to be that open," Ibaka said of the episode. "He was kinda cool. We decided last minute what we were going to cook him. We decided to cook something crazy because it's Kawhi Leonard."
The penis pizza was not Ibaka's only memorable moment with Leonard, though. It was Ibaka who set up Leonard for his now-viral "What it do, baby?" moment. Needless to say, he didn't expect the clip to go viral.
"Actually. I was like did he just say 'what it do babyyyyyy'. To me it's like 'What's up' I say 'What's up baby?' and he said 'what it do baby'. What is so special about that? It was just because it was Kawhi. It was wild. At first I thought he created it or something."
Leonard's departure appears to hurt the Raptors' chance of repeating—but Ibaka doesn't believe anyone should count his team out.
"I think we can get far. We have a pretty good chance. Thing is us, we already know. We hear people. Like last year. Shame on them for saying it again. Last year it was the same. Then we won. This year we're gonna prove them wrong."
"I cooked it for a reason," Ibaka noted. "But I don't want to answer that one right now because you need to tune into the show."
Ibaka's NBA career started with seven seasons in Oklahoma City, playing alongside three future MVPs in Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Though they made one Finals appearance together (2012), they never were able to capture a championship together, though Ibaka (2019) and Durant (2017, 2018) have each won titles since leaving OKC.
Had they stayed together longer, it's possible they could have become an iconic team. However, Ibaka believes that the Thunder core had plenty of time to do something special, though Harden's tenure with the team lasted just three years.
"We were together for a pretty long time too. If we can't accomplish anything in 7 years, then when is it going to happen? James left after his 3rd year. 3 years is, you see the Golden State team. It took them time to win. The rest of us were together for 7 years. When I think about it I start to get confused."
If he had the opportunity to reunite with one of those MVPs, it wouldn't be an easy choice.
"That's tough for me because I like all my guys," Ibaka said. "When I played with Russell that pick and pop was money. James was a good passer. Guys that feed us. If I had to pick one I would pick Kevin Durant."
As for his take on the never-ending debate regarding hoops legends? "Michael Jordan, LeBron James then Kobe."
Basketball was hardly the only topic of discussion, though.
He shared some details about his pregame playlist, naming the artists he listens to help get him ready for a game. And, yes, Toronto ambassador Drake made the cut.
"T.I., Kendrick Lamar and Drake," Ibaka said. "They're all on the pregame playlist. Burna Boy too."
Ibaka has been known to cook up some unusual meals on How Hungry Are You?, giving him the opportunity to eat a variety of meals. He revealed during his AMA that his favorite meal to cook is worms, because they "taste good" and are "great protein."
When asked who his dream guest for the show is, he singled out a Hollywood icon: "One guest...Will Smith. I follow him on social media. I like all the things he does."