BOBAN MARJANOVIC is singing. Just a minute ago, Boban was talking about growing up in Serbia and being 7-foot-4 and playing for the Dallas Mavericks, but now, he is warbling, in thickly accented English, a Vanessa Carlton song with the joy and energy of a devoted tween.
"I'd walk a thousand MILES ... if I could see you TONIGHT," he sings, laughing so hard his shoulders, which are roughly the size of two split logs, roll up and down. It's "A Thousand Miles," the anthem featured in the movie "White Chicks," which Boban readily admits is one of his favorites. "I really love this movie," he says.
This sort of thing -- Boban singing, Boban giggling, Boban smiling so widely it seems like he might puncture a wall -- happens a lot. To be in Boban's presence, according to, well, basically everyone who knows him, is to feel the ineffable warmth that comes from being around someone so comfortable in his own skin.
Former teammate Tobias Harris, one of Boban's best friends, says Boban is uncommonly committed to simply being himself. You see it most in the little things, like, say, Boban's deep and abiding love for soup. He grew up eating soup all the time -- "in my country, for breakfast, not allowed, but for lunch and dinner, yes" -- and he makes no apologies for his desire to have it all of the time in every setting. "No matter what restaurant we go to," Harris says. "We could go to, like, Popeye's or whatever, and he'll ask, 'Do you have soup? Do you have any soup?'"
Whatever the subject, Boban speaks with the tenderness of a beloved camp counselor and the clarity of your favorite professor. When he tells a story about losing all the photos on his phone, he concludes, "So, you know, I don't believe in the iCloud." There are also plenty of jokes, some inappropriate for family-friendly reading and some, delivered with his wide grin -- "What do you call cow on roller coaster? ... Milkshake!" -- that perfectly tiptoe along the line between hokey and hilarious.