Boban Marjanovic, a gigantic Serbian center who is playing his first NBA season with the Spurs, has become a bit of a phenomenon in San Antonio. This is partly because Boban is actually pretty good—he scored 17 points off the bench on Monday, and grabbed 12 rebounds in just 15 minutes last night—and partly because he’s a 7-foot-3 goober who moves up and down the court like a rockslide.
It’s not hard to see why fans get a kick out of Boban:
Boban Mania reached its peak last night, when Spurs fans serenaded him with an “MVP!” chant as he shot free throws late in the fourth quarter. Head coach Gregg Popovich didn’t find the chant totally amusing, and he made a point of bringing it up after the game. From My San Antonio:
“Sometimes it actually worries me,” Popovich said of the phenomenon that has come to be known as “Boban Mania.” “I think the crowd, they really get a kick out of him and all that, but he’s a basketball player. He’s not some sort of an odd thing.”
Popovich makes a decent point: Boban isn’t a circus freak, and basketball fans in particular have a tendency to fetishize the more cartoonish aspects of certain players, turning them into human mascots. On the other hand, Boban is freaking huge and fun! The chance to marvel at genetic freaks performing athletic feats is a big reason why people watch sports in the first place, and when one of the guys on the floor happens to be an affable giant who can actually play a little, of course he’s going to become a fan favorite. I mean, how could a Spurs fan not fall in love with a center who can do stuff like this?