PHOENIX SUNS

Suns’ Bismack Biyombo brings Congo to the pope after trip canceled

Jun 21, 2022, 6:30 PM

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis may have canceled his planned trip to Congo because of his bad knee, but he had a visit Tuesday from one of Congo’s brightest basketball stars who briefed him on his humanitarian efforts back home.

The Phoenix Suns’ Bismack Biyombo had a private audience with Francis at the Vatican hotel where the pontiff lives. The 6-foot-9 Biyombo towered over the Argentine pope, even as he stood for photos.

Francis, 85, has been using a wheelchair to get around after straining ligaments in his right knee. He had to postpone a planned July 2-7 visit to Congo and South Sudan because doctors said the trip would jeopardize his therapy.

Biyombo said the Congolese people were patient and knew he would eventually come.

“If he is not feeling good he can’t get on a plane,” Biyombo told The Associated Press in St. Peter’s Square after the audience. “I think if he wouldn’t go to Congo, I will bring the Congo to him,” he said, laughing.

The center, who has played 11 NBA seasons with the Suns, Charlotte Hornets, Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors, briefed Francis on his foundation, which began by teaching Congolese children basketball, then providing them scholarships, refurbishing schools and hospitals, and building a hospital in honor of his late father.

“Just being able to be in the presence of the pope I think it’s a blessing,” he said. “I wish I could have brought my mum here but she’s absolutely happy that I got to be able to do that and to get the pope’s blessing.”

Phoenix Suns

Kyle Zunic #22 of the Perth Wildcats shoots a layup against Tyler Smith #11 of G League Ignite in t...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Do Suns go project route in 2024 NBA Draft with Tyler Smith?

G League Ignite forward Tyler Smith has a combination of size and shooting rarely seen on the first-round bubble of the NBA Draft.

5 hours ago

Tyler Kolek, Marquette point guard...

Ryan Pasiecznik

Point guard Tyler Kolek picked by Suns in For The Win’s NBA mock draft

The Phoenix Suns' point guard problem could be solved in the 2024 NBA Draft if Marquette guard Tyler Kolek is on the board at No. 22.

8 hours ago

Bobi Klintman  of the Taipans in action during the round 13 NBL match between Cairns Taipans and Me...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Bobi Klintman could be Suns’ big wing in 2024 NBA Draft

If the Phoenix Suns want a bigger wing in the 2024 NBA Draft, Bobi Klintman is a headliner in the back of the first round.

1 day ago

Charles Barkley looks on prior to game three of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Ce...

Kellan Olson

Charles Barkley says next season will be his last on television

Long-time NBA analyst for TNT Charles Barkley revealed on NBA TV Friday night that next season will be his last on television.

2 days ago

Jaime Jaquez Jr. #11 of the Miami Heat is guarded by Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Golden State Warrior...

Kellan Olson

22 for 22: Can Suns find rare instant contributor in NBA Draft?

There is no doubting the value it would bring the Phoenix Suns to select a player in the NBA Draft who was a long-term part of what they do.

2 days ago

Cam Payne's mug shot after an arrest in Scottsdale...

Arizona Sports

Former Suns PG Cam Payne arrested in Scottsdale for refusing to give identity to police

Former Phoenix Suns point guard Cam Payne was arrested for failing to provide Scottsdale Police officers with his name.

2 days ago

Suns’ Bismack Biyombo brings Congo to the pope after trip canceled