Toronto Raptors power forward Serge Ibaka doesn’t seem happy about the rumors that he’s older than 27 and wants the media to take responsibility for spreading them.
“I am very disappointed with the small part of society that spreads rumors and creates news based on stereotypes and without any proof,” Ibaka, who recently re-signed to a 3-year deal with the Raptors, wrote in a Friday, July 1 memo seeming to respond to the claims. “I’m sad that to this day there are still prejudices based on your origin and, as Africans, sometimes we need to take a stand. … I know we live in a fast news world, where rumors and scoops rule, but I think media should take their responsibility seriously when talking about important matters that can hurt people. I know who I am and [where] I come from, and so do the people that really know me.”
— Serge Ibaka (@sergeibaka_7) July 1, 2017
Rumors about Ibaka’s age, which have followed him throughout his career, surfaced again when ESPN writer Zach Lowe appeared on the podcast “The Full 48” last week.
“Look, as uncomfortable as it is to say that, the league, not the league office, teams believe that [Ibaka] is older than his listed age,” Lowe said Tuesday, June 27. “So whether he is or not, or what are the ethical issues of saying that, I don’t know. But it affects the free-agency market for him.”
The Congolese-Spanish star isn’t the only one who has dealt with this, as rumors have plagued other African athletes, too. Local bloggers claimed Nigerian former soccer player Taribo West, who is 43, is in his late 50s, according to The Guardian, and Jay-Jay Okocha, who is also Nigerian and a former soccer player, was supposedly a decade older than 43.