Part of the reason Los Angeles Lakers big man Ivica Zubac became such a fan-favorite during his rookie season was how openly he made his homages to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. From adopting his signature skyhook to wearing his number 33 jersey while on assignment with the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Zubac’s respect for the former Lakers superstar was obvious.
As it turns out (and I’m embarrassed I didn’t notice this before), Zubac’s jersey number with the D-Fenders wasn’t the only way he paid tribute to Abdul-Jabbar’s now-retired numeral.
While Zubac certainly had growing pains on defense at times last season, the rim protection ability he flashed resulted in him racking up exactly 33 blocked shots. I’m choosing to believe was yet another deliberate tribute to Kareem, and in no way a totally random coincidence.
You can watch all 33 of Ivica’s Zu-blocks in the video below (h/t Rafal Kamienski/@rkamienski for bringing this to our attention on Twitter):
The conclusion to all this is simple: Zubac is going to be the next Kareem. Numbers never lie.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.