By Oluwatosin Michael | Deythere.com
Senegal’s Elhadji Tacko Sereigne Diop is the tallest basketball player in the NBA. Tacko Fall who was born in Dakar, Senegal on 10th December 1995 is 24-years-old. He stands at 2.26 m and in an interview with NBA Africa talks about how he is representing his country and family in the United States of America.
Tacko Fall is in his Rookie season in the NBA and has already made a name for himself with a two-way contract with the Boston Celtics and their G-League affiliate.
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In the interview, Tacko Fall talks about how he is adapting to professional basketball after leaving college.
He said, “I think that my rookie season could not have been any better…. The Celtics came with a plan, they came with a great plan, they thought it would be my best benefit to go back and forth between Boston and the G League. It’s my first year, I had a lot of people ahead of me so I wouldn’t be getting a lot of playing time anyway. To keep getting better, I had to gain experience and the best way to do it probably would have been to (go) to the G League, and they were close. Maine was a really small gym, so it was always crowded. The games were mostly sold out, so the atmosphere was great. I was just seeing myself getting better, I had a lot of fun. They did a good job helping me with my conditioning. Both of those experiences combined together were really helpful for me.”
Because he is the tallest player in the league, the popularity of Tacko Fall has grown enormously, and he shares his experience.
He said, “I’m trying to be myself, I feel like I am a very transparent person, what you see is what you get… Playing in the TD Garden in Boston was just mind-blowing. The fans really embraced me, I got really blessed to play for a team like that.”
Tacko also explained that he has a good relationship with his teammates
He said, “We all get along with each other. Personally, I feel we have one of the best chemistries in the NBA. Everybody takes care of each other, we all have each other’s back.”
Tacko was part of the contingent that participated in the Basketball Without Borders Africa camp last year in his home country Senegal.
He gave his thoughts on what the experience was like.
He said, “That was my first time (going back home) in seven years. It’s like when I left home I was a young kid. I didn’t have much, I was 16 years old… I went back home and it felt different. I met the president (Macky Sall)…. We talked with the president and afterward, they had a press conference. They started talking to the president, but right after that all the cameras started shifting, and all of a sudden they stopped at my face…. I was so nervous.”
Tacko also knows with his growing popularity he is representing his family, country, and the continent in the NBA and gave his thoughts on the responsibility.
He said, “I’m trying to represent where I am from to the best of my capability, as a Senegalese and as an African. So for me to go back home and see that all the work that I had done so far… Being noticed, a lot of people start looking up to me… I still don’t consider myself as a role model, I just try to live my life the best way that I can, just try to be as transparent as I can. For people to look up to that, that just means a lot to me.”
There have been a lot of Senegalese greats in the NBA such as Makhtar Ndiaye, Mamadou Ndiaye and Gorgui Dieng and Tacko Fall aims to replicate their achievements.
He said, “Mamadou’s brother is actually the one who introduced me to basketball. I met Mamadou for the first time in Senegal. The story is, Mamadou’s brother found me… He was trying to get me to go to his academy, but I didn’t know who he was. So I was like, you got to speak to my mom first. And then, he went and talked to my mom… He came and said, you know he is tall, he is a smart kid, I want to help him. He’s going to go to school… I was 16… So he was like, we’re gonna help him go to the States….”
“I didn’t know how to play basketball. I used to go outside and shoot a little bit, but I was never a basketball player. So for me to have the training that I needed, I had to go to the States, play against that kind of competition and have that kind of coaching and training. That’s what he pitched to my mom pretty much, and that I would be able to get a really good education as well. I spent six months in his (Mamadou’s brother) academy…”
“The first time I met Mamadou was after I had started at the academy. He came over and that was the first time I met him. After six months I left there and came over to Houston. And that’s pretty much how everything started for me.”
“Makhtar (Ndiaye) used to scout me. He works for the New York Knicks…. First time I saw Makhtar he came up to me and started speaking Wolof. But I didn’t know much about Makhtar back then. The more (times) we met, (the more) I learned more about him… Makhtar is one of the best people, he’s very genuine and he’s real…”
“And Gorgui, a great person, he does a lot for Senegal. He does a lot of community work. For me, I see that and I want to be able to do the same… I haven’t talked to him about it much, but I’ve been watching from afar and just try to learn as much as possible.”
“So all those guys, from Makhtar, to Mamadou, to Gorgui, I feel like they did a really good job of representing my country and pretty much setting an example for the kids that come after them.”
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