Raptors’ power forward Pascal Siakam gave everyone an important reminder that there’s a whole French-speaking part of Canada during a press conference on Friday.
As the Toronto Raptors make history pushing forward into the NBA Finals, Siakam answered questions about the team’s upcoming strategy going into Game 2 against the Golden State Warriors.
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Questions in a variety of languages are fairly common at NBA press conferences, especially for a sport that recruits players from all over the world. And now that the Raptors are being hailed as representing all of Canada, the attention has only increased.
That’s maybe why Siakam seemed teasingly disappointed about getting through a press conference in a bilingual country without a single French question.
“No French questions?” he asked before starting to walk away. “What’s going on?”
As soon as a reporter spoke up in French, Siakam got back to the table.
The reporter asked if he spoke the language before going on with the interview.
“Of course,” he replied, in French, without batting an eye.
Siakim finished the interview seamlessly before thanking the reporter for the question.
Siakam’s not the only Raptors player who’s linguistically talented. Chris Boucher, who joined the team last year, grew up in Montreal and is also fluent in French. Marc Gasol switches between Spanish, Catalan and English.
But Serge Ibaka takes the cake. He once casually transitioned between three languages (English, French and Spanish) during a press conference in 2018.
That’s impressive enough, but he actually speaks a couple more. He’s fluent in at least four languages, counting his Congolese mother-tongue, Lingala. But he’s also asked for Italian and Portuguese during other interviews.
The Raptors are truly Toronto’s team — a city where people speak more than 200 languages. But Siakam’s insistence on having a French question definitely impressed the country’s francophone population.