D. J. Mbenga
December 30, 1980 |
|Nationality||Belgian / Congolese|
|Listed height||7 ft 0 in (213 cm)|
|Listed weight||255 lb (116 kg)|
|Pro playing career||2001–present|
|2001–2002||Spirou Charleroi (Belgium)|
|2002–2003||Leuven Bears (Belgium)|
|2003–2004||Spirou Charleroi (Belgium)|
|2007–2008||Golden State Warriors|
|2008–2010||Los Angeles Lakers|
|2010–2011||New Orleans Hornets|
|2013||Barako Bull Energy Cola (Philippines)|
|Career highlights and awards|
Didier Ilunga-Mbenga, commonly referred to as D. J. Mbenga (pronounced: Benga) (born December 30, 1980), is a Belgian professional basketball player. He has also played for the Belgian national basketball team.
Mbenga was born in and raised in Kinshasa in Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where his father was a government employee. When a new regime took over power, it sought everyone who worked for the previous leader. As unrest in the country escalated, Mbenga's father was imprisoned. Although he was eventually unable to save himself, he did manage to negotiate on behalf of his sons, who were also imprisoned and waiting to be executed. Mbenga fled the country on a plane to Belgium, where he received asylum. While living in a refugee center, he was discovered by Belgian basketball legend Willy Steveniers, who eventually served as Mbenga's personal basketball mentor. Mbenga is a dual citizen of both his native countries.
In Europe, Mbenga played in two professional teams: with Spirou Gilly of the Belgian Division II league in the 2001-2002 season and with Pallacanestro Varese of Lega Basket Serie A for two seasons from 2002 to 2004. At the ULEB Cup 2003–04, Mbenga averaged 4.1 points and 3.6 rebounds.
Mbenga was signed by the Dallas Mavericks as an undrafted free agent on July 14, 2004 with a 2-year, $3.4 million contract. He continued through the 2005–06 season with the Mavericks but when the season ended, Mbenga became an unrestricted free agent. Mbenga extended his contract with the Dallas Mavericks for three seasons for an approximated US$2 million a year.
In the 2006 playoffs he was suspended 6 games without pay for entering the stands. He saw coach Avery Johnson's wife being disturbed by some fans, and reportedly went into the stands with owner Mark Cuban to help usher Mrs. Johnson to the locker room. Regardless of his intentions, the NBA's Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Stu Jackson maintained a hard line against players entering the stands (a direct result of the infamous Pacers–Pistons brawl of 2004), suspending him for six games without pay. When asked about watching the Finals from home, Mbenga remarked, "Sometimes, I can't watch. When I start watching, especially when Diop or Erick have foul trouble, I get mad. I might shoot the TV."
Mbenga was later waived by the Mavericks in order for them to sign Juwan Howard. On November 17, 2007, Mbenga was signed to play with the Golden State Warriors under the direction of his old coach in Dallas, Don Nelson. On February 7, 2007 against Memphis, Mbenga hurt his knee late in the fourth quarter and limped off the court. It was originally thought that he had only strained his knee and would be back after a week or so, however, later scans found Mbenga had torn an anterior cruciate ligament, which required surgical reconstruction. As a result of the injury, Mbenga missed the rest of the season.
On January 6, 2008 he was waived by Golden State. Later that month, on January 21, 2008 he was signed to a 10-day contract by the Los Angeles Lakers. On February 11, 2008 the Lakers signed Mbenga for the rest of the 2007–08 season.
On March 6, 2009 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Mbenga scored a career high 10 points on 4–5 shooting with 4 rebounds and 5 blocks in just 17 minutes. On June 14, 2009, Mbenga won his first NBA Title with the Los Angeles Lakers.
With starting forward Pau Gasol and center Andrew Bynum injured, Mbenga made his first start for the Los Angeles Lakers on November 6, 2009 against the Memphis Grizzlies  Two days later, Mbenga recorded his first career double double with 10 points and 12 rebounds in addition to 4 blocks against the New Orleans Hornets. On April 9, 2010 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Mbenga set a new career high by scoring 11 points. On June 17, 2010, Mbenga won his second NBA title after his Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in the Finals.
During his stay in Los Angeles, he became a crowd favorite and acquired the nickname "Congo Cash".
In November 2012, Mbenga signed with Qingdao DoubleStar of the Chinese Basketball Association. He was replaced mid-season by Chris Daniels. In April 2013, he joined Barako Bull Energy Cola in the Philippines.
The Mbenga Foundation offers help to children in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congolese refugees in Belgium (as Didier had been).
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
- "Belgian Lions eindigen in mineur" (in Dutch). Sportwereld.be. 2006-09-17.
- "D.J. Mbenga". NBA. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
- "NBA Access: Lakers-Jazz" (Windows Media), NBA Access with Ahmad Rashad, May 17, 2008
- Bhattacharya, Preetom (March 10, 2008). "Mbenga Provides Some Perspective". Hoopsworld. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
- "Poulain van Willy Steveniers tekent contract bij Dallas Mavericks" (in Dutch). Sportwereld.be. 2004.
- "D.J. Mbenga bio". NBA. 2010. Archived from the original on November 18, 2010.
- "D.J. Mbenga bio". NBA. 2006. Archived from the original on December 14, 2006.
- "LAL - D.J. Mbenga". June 19, 2009. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- Mavericks Contracts and future salary commitments at the Wayback Machine (archived August 13, 2007) Archived from the original on 2007-08-13
- Dallas’ D.J. Mbenga Suspended Six Games, June 1, 2006
- Dallas Morning News Page 5C June 16, 2006
- "Knee injury to sideline Mavs' Mbenga for season". ESPN. 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-17.
- Lepper, Geoff (2008-01-07). "Warriors waive backup center Mbenga". Vallejo Times-Herald (MediaNews Group). Retrieved 2008-01-08.
- LAKERS SIGN DJ MBENGA, January 21, 2008
- After two 10-day contracts, He was a beast so the Lakers sign Mbenga for rest of year, February 11, 2008
- http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2009/03/lakers-110-minn.html Los Angeles Times. 2009. Retrieved on 2009-3-7
- Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Lakers - Recap - November 06, 2009 - ESPN
- HORNETS: Hornets Sign D.J. MBenga
- 双星正式搞定姆本加 生锡顺：今年绝对值得期待
- Barako Bull expects ‘more inside presence’ from ex-Laker DJ Mbenga
- "Didier Ilunga-Mbenga Bio Page". NBA.com.
- Fundraising report and photo at event hosted by Jaeger-LeCoultre in Los Angeles
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