Despite the NBA’s regular season pause, Sixers rookie Matisse Thybulle has been a busy man, from viral TikToks (LINK) to virtual awards presentations.
Over the weekend, Thybulle appeared on the “Be Better, Be Different” YouTube show to answer five questions, and he told a story about his high school basketball varsity debut that blew our minds.
Thybulle told the story of being tasked with guarding current Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine, as a wide-eyed freshman. He was terrified, but Thybulle actually excelled:
I started off with the freshmen and C-team guys, and then got bumped up, was playing JV. And then was going back and forth, a little bit, but kind of how – you’re on JV and you save five minutes […] to get in.
And then, towards the end of the season, I got called up because – I went to Skyline High School, and Skyline was playing Bothell. Bothell was home of Zach LaVine, and for some reason they thought freshman Matisse was going to be able to come out and guard him. This was my first real varsity game I’d ever played in. I think I had two steals and two blocks on him, and I swear to God I’m not exaggerating. It was the craziest thing ever.
If you think that’s the craziest thing ever, just wait until you connect some dots.
Thybulle, who is two years younger than LaVine and reached the NBA five years after LaVine was drafted by the Bulls, played the Bulls for the first time on Jan. 17. It was the first time he and LaVine faced off during their pro careers.
So, of course, Thybulle finished the game with two steals and three blocks – including two of each off LaVine.
It was a great night for Thybulle and the Sixers, who rolled to a win and allowed just 89 points. This Thybulle block was pretty popular among Sixers fans that night:
Thybulle talked with reporters before the game about that fateful high school game against LaVine:
I was a freshman in high school. It was intimidating. I was going up against Zach LaVine who was one of the best players in the state. Actually the first time I guarded him it was my first game as a freshman in high school. This was Zach LaVine dunking on people. I feel like I stepped up to the challenge.
LaVine also remembered that game, eight years ago, when he recounted it to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Serena Winters pregame:
Okay, you’re going to put a freshman on me like that, that’s not going to be good for him. First play, came down and gave him a little crossover and I got some space and I shot it and he tipped it. And in high school no one came close to blocking my shot.
That varsity debut, eight years ago, was a huge moment for Thybulle’s basketball career, and eight years later his masterful defense came full circle. Wild.
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