Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel reports:

May 26, 2010 - Orlando, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - epa02174629 Orlando Magic's Marcin Gortat, of Poland, (L) drives against Boston Celtics' Glen Davis during the first period of game five of the NBA Eastern Conference finals at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida, USA, 26 May 2010. The Celtics hold a three games to one lead in the best of seven series.

Gortat, a native of Poland, didn’t even play basketball till he was almost 18.

Instead, Gortat received his hoops training on the soccer field, as he spent his youth playing goalkeeper for his competitive soccer squad. “I was probably the world’s tallest goalie,” he says.

He played soccer all of his life — like almost everyone did in Poland — and he was actually a pretty good keeper for his club team, LKS Lodz.

So when you see Gortat diving at a point guard’s ankles for a loose ball, there’s a chance he’s imagining it as a soccer ball rolling free inside the 18-yard box.

Marcin Gortat, aka the Polish Machine, aka the world’s tallest goalkeeper.

“I was always jumping and diving on the floor for two hours per day when we had soccer practice my whole life,” Gortat said. “It’s part of the game for me.”