Congolese basketball players have long been suspected of pulling the wool over the collective eyes of the NBA when it comes to their age *cough* Dikembe *cough*. I think that it is an interesting question but when it comes down to it, does it really matter?
Bismack claims he's 18 years old, while many believe that he's actually closer to 22. And there was one Eastern conference GM who had heard he was maybe even 26! I'm going to completely disregard this "rumor" coming from a GM who was probably just hoping to lower Biyombo's stock so his team could manage to snag him. So, I'm operating under the assumption that he's anywhere from 18-22. I understand with some foreign prospects how this could be an issue. If said player was 22 when they claimed they were 18, well then they've been developing as a player for four more years and it's more of a "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" situation. It's understandable in certain instances. But when it comes to our very own Air Congo, it really makes no difference whatsoever, in my humble opinion.
If we're assuming he is indeed 18, then Biyombo was originally discovered at an amateur youth tournament in Yemen by Mario Palma, former coach of the Jordanian and Angolan Olympic teams, at the age of 16. He started playing in the Congo but was already in Spain playing in the Spanish basketball equivalent of the minor leagues, LEB Plata, before he even had another birthday! This was when the x-ray that I'll come to in a minute was reportedly taken. By January 9th, 2011, Biyombo had been called up to Fuenlabrada in la Liga ACB, the big leagues, and made his professional debut. In a game against Real Madrid he rejected Felipe Reyes, former Spanish League MVP; not en la casa de Biz Markie, Felipe (Wikipedia). And that brings us to today.
This explains how wrist x-rays are really only useful for determining if said patient has entered/passed puberty, how tall they will ultimately grow, and how much time they have left to grow. At age 18, the growth plates in your wrist fuse/calcify with the other bones in your wrist. In the x-ray reportedly taken two years ago, the growth plate had not yet fused, proving that the wrist in the x-ray was that of a teenager. Case closed right? Well not really; Dr. Ben Wedro asserts that unless Biyombo has some sort of scar or mark on his wrist bone, there's really no way to tell if it's actually his wrist. He goes on to denegrate the accuracy of Spanish medical records and puts forth the idea that Igor Crespo, Biyombo's agent, may have used a younger stand-in for the x-ray and it was just Crespo doing his job as an agent. That seems a little farfetched to me. The kid had just gotten to Spain, hadn't played a minute of Euro-ball and his agent schemes this up because he knows Biyombo is going to tear through La Liga and be a potential lottery pick not even two years later?
My response to all of this: who cares? Alright let's say Bismack is 22. What difference does it make? He wasplaying amateur basketball 'til he was X-2 (X being whatever his age is now) years old. Players don't extensively develop on a youth/amateur basketball team. The fact of the matter is that he's been playing professional ball for roughly 2 years, where he had coaches working with him around the clock to develop him and maximize his abilities. At the end of the day it doesn't matter if he's 18, 22 or anything in between because he's only really been developing as a basketball player for two years. Also, whatever happened to just believing the guy? Point is, we got a helluva player and I can't wait to see him patrolling the paint for the next 10-15 years.
***Update: I have been informed that Bismack said that he has been playing basketball for 5 years. So since 13 if you believe he's 18, 17 if he's 22.
"Thank you sir, may I have another?"
P.S. - Am I the only one who would like to see B*tchsmack carry on the NBA Congolese tradition of the finger wag following the rejection of some poor fool like this?