Dikembe Mutombo

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Dikembe Mutombo
Dikembe Mutombo at the Aspire4Sport Congress in Doha..jpg
Mutombo in 2012.
No. 55
Center
Personal information
Born (1966-06-25) June 25, 1966 (age 48)
Kinshasa, DR Congo
Nationality Congolese / American
Listed height 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m)
Listed weight 260 lb (118 kg)
Career information
College Georgetown (1988–1991)
NBA draft 1991 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4th overall
Selected by the Denver Nuggets
Pro playing career 1991–2009
Career history
19911996 Denver Nuggets
19962001 Atlanta Hawks
20012002 Philadelphia 76ers
2002–2003 New Jersey Nets
2003–2004 New York Knicks
20042009 Houston Rockets
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points 11,729 (9.8 ppg)
Rebounds 12,359 (10.3 rpg)
Blocks 3,289 (2.8 bpg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo[1] (born June 25, 1966), commonly referred to as Dikembe Mutombo, is a Congolese American retired professional basketball player who last played for the Houston Rockets of the NBA. Outside basketball, he has become known for his humanitarian work.

The 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m), 260-pound (120 kg; 19 st) center is commonly referred to as one of the greatest shot blockers and defensive players of all time, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times; he was also an eight-time All-Star. On January 10, 2007, he surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league's second most prolific shot blocker, in terms of career blocked shots, in NBA history, behind only Hakeem Olajuwon. In the second game of the first round of the 2009 NBA playoffs, Mutombo suffered a knee injury that kept him out for the remainder of the postseason. Soon after the injury, Mutombo announced he had played his last game in the NBA.[2]

College[edit]

Mutombo attended Georgetown University on a USAID scholarship, and his original intention was to become a doctor; however, the Georgetown Hoyas basketball coach John Thompson recruited him to play basketball. He spoke almost no English when he arrived at Georgetown and studied in the ESL program. He became an excellent college center, continuing Georgetown's tradition of producing great big men. He was a celebrated shot blocker at Georgetown, setting a team record of twelve blocked shots in a single game. Building on the shot-blocking power of Mutombo and teammate Alonzo Mourning, Georgetown fans created a "Rejection Row" section under the basket, adding a big silhouette of an outstretched hand to a banner for each shot blocked during the game.

While at Georgetown, Mutombo's international background and interests stood out. Like many other Washington-area college students, he served as a summer intern, once for the Congress of the United States and once for the World Bank. In 1991 he graduated with bachelor's degrees in linguistics and diplomacy.[3]

NBA career[edit]

Denver Nuggets[edit]

Selected fourth overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 1991 NBA Draft, Mutombo's impact was immediate. As a rookie, he was selected for the All-Star team and averaged 16.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, and nearly three blocks per game. A cornerstone in the Nuggets' frontcourt, Mutombo became one of the league's best defensive players, regularly putting up big rebound and block numbers for five years with the club while averaging about 11 points a game. The team lacked a quality supporting cast, however, and at its best won only 42 games. In Mutombo's third season, however, Denver pulled off a major playoff upset by stunning the top-seeded Seattle SuperSonics in the first round, becoming the first eighth seed to win an NBA playoff series. At the end of Game 5, Mutombo fell to the ground, holding the ball over his head in a moment of joy. Mutombo's defensive presence was the key to the upset victory; his total of 31 blocks remains a record for a five-game series. The following season, he received the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Atlanta Hawks[edit]

After the 1995–96 NBA season, Mutombo's contract with the Nuggets expired, and he signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Hawks. Mutombo continued to put up excellent defensive numbers with his new team. Joining the Hawks made him more noticeable, helping him win two more Defensive Player of the Year awards and earn several All-Defensive Team selections. He also became fairly well known for his signature finger waggle, which he would point in a player's direction after he had blocked that player's shot. During the lockout-shortened 1999 season, he was the NBA's IBM Award winner, a player of the year award determined by a computerized formula.

Philadelphia 76ers[edit]

Mutombo with the 76ers in 2002

The Hawks traded Mutombo to the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers in February 2001 for their injured center Theo Ratliff, as the Sixers needed a replacement stellar big man to compete with Western Conference powers Tim Duncan or Shaquille O'Neal, should they reach the finals. He earned his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award that season and also earned a trip to the NBA Finals, where the 76ers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers four games to one. A free-agent, he re-signed with the Sixers after the season. While his statistics were comparable in the 2001–02 season, the Sixers dealt him to the New Jersey Nets, fearing that his game had deteriorated.

New Jersey Nets[edit]

The Nets were looking for a more physical big man to compete with Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan, two of the best big men in the league who also led championship-caliber teams in the West. But Mutombo spent most of that season with a nagging injury that limited him to just 24 games. He was generally unable to play in the playoffs, typically serving as a sixth man during the Nets' second consecutive Finals run.

New York Knicks[edit]

In October 2003, the Nets bought out the remainder of his contract and subsequently waived him. He signed a two-year deal with the New York Knicks a few days later. The Knicks later traded him to the Chicago Bulls in a package for Jamal Crawford. He never played a game for the Bulls, and they dealt him to the Houston Rockets in the 2004 offseason.

Houston Rockets[edit]

Mutombo with the Houston Rockets in March 2008

Mutombo most recently played as a reserve behind Yao Ming, forming one of the NBA's most productive center combos. In his first season with the Rockets (2004–05), Mutombo averaged 15.2 MPG, 5.3 RPG, and 4.0 PPG. The Rockets lost in the first round against the Dallas Mavericks. In the 2007–08 season, Mutombo yet again received extensive playing time when Yao went down with a broken bone and averaged double digits in rebounding as a starter. The additional playing time gave Mutombo the opportunity to continue accruing blocked shots at a record-setting pace. On January 10, 2008, in a 102–77 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers, Mutombo recorded 5 blocked shots and surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in total career blocked shots. Mutombo is currently second only to Hakeem Olajuwon. Also, on March 2, 2007, in a win over the Denver Nuggets, at the age of 40, Mutombo became the oldest player in NBA history to record more than 20 rebounds in a game with 22.[4] After contemplating retirement and spending the first part of 2008 as an unsigned unrestricted free agent, on December 31, 2008, Mutombo signed with the Houston Rockets for the remainder of the 2008–2009 season. He said that the 2009 season would be his "farewell tour" and his last.

In his final season, Mutombo was the oldest player in the NBA.[5] In Game 1 of Houston's first round playoff series against Portland, Mutombo played for 18 minutes and had nine rebounds, two blocks, and a steal.[6]

In the 2nd quarter of Game 2, Mutombo landed awkwardly and had to be carried from the floor. After the game, he said, "it’s over for me for my career" and that surgery would be needed.[2][7] It was later confirmed that the quadriceps tendon of his left knee was ruptured in Game 2.[8][dead link] Mutombo announced retirement on April 23, 2009, after 18 seasons in the NBA.

Player profile[edit]

The 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m) 260 lb (120 kg), Mutombo played center, where he was regarded as one of the top post defenders of all time. Nicknamed as "Mt. Mutombo", his combination of height, power and long arms have led to a record tying four NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards, a feat equaled only by Ben Wallace. Staples of Mutombo's defensive prowess were his outstanding shot-blocking and rebounding power: for his career, he averaged 2.8 blocks and 10.3 rebounds per game. He is second all-time in registered blocks, behind only Hakeem Olajuwon, and is the 21st most prolific rebounder ever.[9] He was also an eight-time All-Star and was elected into three All-NBA and six All-Defensive Teams.[10] Along with his defensive prowess Mutombo also could contribute offensively, averaging at least 10 points per game until he reached age 35.[10]

Mutombo also achieved a certain level of on-court notoriety. After a successful block, he was known for taunting his opponents by waving his index finger, like a parent reproaching a disobedient child. Later in his career NBA officials would respond to the gesture with a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. To avoid the technical foul, Mutombo took to waving his finger at the crowd after a block, which is not considered taunting by rules.[11] In addition, his flailing elbows were known for injuring several NBA players, including Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Charles Oakley, Patrick Ewing, Chauncey Billups, Ray Allen, Yao Ming, LeBron James and Tracy McGrady. His former teammate Yao Ming made a joke about it: "I need to talk to Coach to have Dikembe held out of practice, because if he hits somebody in practice, it's our teammate. At least in the games, it's 50/50."[12]

Personal life[edit]

Mutombo was born a member of the Luba ethnic group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Multilingual by both upbringing and education, Mutombo speaks English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Tshiluba, Swahili, Lingala and two other Central African varieties.[13] He and his wife Rose have six children, four of whom are adopted.[13]

Mutombo was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the State University of New York College at Cortland for his humanitarian work in Africa. More recently, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Georgetown University in 2010. There he delivered the commencement address for Georgetown College of Arts and Sciences, of which he is an alumnus.[14] He also received an honorary doctorate degree from Haverford College in May 2011.[15]

Mutombo's nephew Harouna Mutombo played college basketball for the Western Carolina Catamounts. Harouna was the team's leading scorer for the 2009 season and was named Southern Conference Freshman of the Year.[16]

Media[edit]

In 2012, Mutombo lent his voice and likeness to a 16-bit style Flash game released by Old Spice.

Mutombo appeared in a Geico auto insurance commercial in February 2013, parodying his shot blocking ability by applying it to real world situations.[17]

Humanitarian work[edit]

Mutombo speaks to the Senegalese population about the importance of sleeping under mosquito nets.

A well-known humanitarian, Mutombo started the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve living conditions in his native Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997. His efforts earned him the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2001 and 2009. For his feats, Sporting News named him as one of the "Good Guys in Sports" in 1999 and 2000,[13] and in 1999, he was elected as one of 20 winners of the President's Service Awards, the nation's highest honor for volunteer service.[13] In 2004, he participated in the Basketball Without Borders NBA program, where NBA stars like Shawn Bradley, Malik Rose and DeSagana Diop toured Africa to spread the word about basketball and to improve the infrastructure.[13] He paid for uniforms and expenses for the Zaire women's basketball team during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.[13] Mutombo is a spokesman for the international relief agency, CARE and is the first Youth Emissary for the United Nations Development Program.[18]

Mutombo is a longtime supporter of Special Olympics and is currently a member of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors, as well as a Global Ambassador.[19] [20] He has been a pioneer of Unified Sports, which brings together people with and without intellectual disabilities. He also played in the Unity Cup in South Africa before the 2010 World Cup Quarterfinal, along with South African President Jacob Zuma and Special Olympics athletes from around the world.[21]

In honor of his humanitarianism, Mutombo was invited to President George W. Bush's 2007 State of the Union Address and was referred to as a "son of the Congo" by the President in his speech.[22] Mutombo later said, "My heart was full of joy. I didn't know the President was going to say such great remarks."[23]

On April 13, 2011, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health awarded Dikembe Mutombo the Goodermote Humanitarian Award "for his efforts to reduce polio globally as well as his work improving the health of neglected and underserved populations in the Democratic Republic of Congo."[24] Michael J. Klag, dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, said “Mr. Mutombo is a winner in many ways—on the court and as a humanitarian. His work has improved the health of the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital and Research Center is a model for the region. Likewise, Mr. Mutombo has been instrumental in the fight against polio by bolstering vaccination efforts and bringing treatment to victims of the disease.”[24]

In 2012, the Mutombo Foundation, in partnership with Mutombo's alma mater, Georgetown University, began a new initiative which aims to provide care for visually impaired children from low-income families in the Washington, D.C. region.

Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital[edit]

In 1997, Mutombo with the Mutombo Foundation began plans to open a $29 million, 300-bed hospital on the outskirts of his hometown, the Congolese capital of Kinshasa. Ground was broken in 2001, but construction didn't start until 2004, as Mutombo had trouble getting donations early on although he personally donated $3.5 million toward the hospital's construction.[18] Initially Mutombo had some other difficulties, almost losing the land to the government because it was not being used and having to pay refugees who had begun farming the land to leave. He also struggled to reassure some that he did not have any ulterior or political motives for the project.[18] The project has been on the whole very well received at all social and economic levels in Kinshasa.[18]

On August 14, 2006, Dikembe had donated $15 million to the completion of the hospital for its ceremonial opening on September 2, 2006. It was by then named Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, for his late mother, who died of a stroke in 1997.[25][dead link]

When it opened in 2007, the $29 million facility became the first modern medical facility to be built in that area in nearly 40 years.[26] His hospital is on a 12-acre (49,000 m2) site on the outskirts of Kinshasa in Masina, where about a quarter of the city's 7.5 million residents live in poverty. It is minutes from Kinshasa's airport and near a bustling open-air market.

National Constitution Center[edit]

Mutombo serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, which is a museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.[27]

Career summary and highlights[edit]

  • 4-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year: 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001
  • 8-time NBA All-Star: 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002
  • 3-time All-NBA:
    • Second Team: 2001
    • Third Team: 1998, 2002
  • 6-time All-Defensive:
    • First Team: 1997, 1998, 2001
    • Second Team: 1995, 1999, 2002
  • NBA All-Rookie First Team: 1992
  • 2nd on All-Time NBA recorded Blocks, 3,256.
  • 2-time NBA regular-season leader, rebounding average: 2000 (14.1), 2001 (13.5)
  • 4-time NBA regular-season leader, total rebounds: 1995 (1029), 1997 (929), 1999 (610), 2000 (1157)
  • NBA regular-season leader, offensive rebounds: 2001 (307)
  • 2-time NBA regular-season leader, defensive rebounds: 1999 (418), 2000 (853)
  • 3-time NBA regular-season leader, blocked shots average: 1994 (4.1), 1995 (3.9), 1996 (4.5)
  • 5-time NBA regular-season leader, total blocks: 1994 (336), 1995 (321), 1996 (332), 1997 (264), 1998 (277)
  • Career averages (as of March 2008): 9.9 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 2.7 BPG
  • Invited to be a special guest at President George W. Bush's State of the Union address, commended for his humanitarian aid to his homeland.
  • Oldest player in NBA history to collect over 20 rebounds in a game (March 2, 2007 vs. Denver Nuggets)

NBA career statistics[edit]

Legend
  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

Regular season[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1991–92 Denver 71 71 38.3 .493 .000 .642 12.3 2.2 .6 3.0 16.6
1992–93 Denver 82 82 36.9 .510 .000 .681 13.0 1.8 .5 3.5 13.8
1993–94 Denver 82 82 34.8 .569 .000 .583 11.8 1.5 .7 4.1 12.0
1994–95 Denver 82 82 37.8 .556 .000 .654 12.5 1.4 .5 3.9 11.5
1995–96 Denver 74 74 36.7 .499 .000 .695 11.8 1.5 .5 4.5 11.0
1996–97 Atlanta 80 80 37.2 .527 .000 .705 11.6 1.4 .6 3.3 13.3
1997–98 Atlanta 82 82 35.6 .537 .000 .670 11.4 1.0 .4 3.4 13.4
1998–99 Atlanta 50 50 36.6 .512 .000 .684 12.2 1.1 .3 2.9 10.8
1999–00 Atlanta 82 82 36.4 .562 .000 .708 14.1 1.3 .3 3.3 11.5
2000–01 Atlanta 49 49 35.0 .477 .000 .695 14.1 1.1 .4 2.8 9.1
2000–01 Philadelphia 26 26 33.7 .495 .000 .759 12.4 .8 .3 2.5 11.7
2001–02 Philadelphia 80 80 36.3 .501 .000 .764 10.8 1.0 .4 2.4 11.5
2002–03 New Jersey 24 16 21.4 .374 .000 .727 6.4 .8 .2 1.5 5.8
2003–04 New York 65 56 23.0 .478 .000 .681 6.7 .4 .3 1.9 5.6
2004–05 Houston 80 2 15.2 .498 .000 .741 5.3 .1 .2 1.3 4.0
2005–06 Houston 64 23 14.9 .526 .000 .758 4.8 .1 .3 .9 2.6
2006–07 Houston 75 33 17.2 .556 .000 .690 6.5 .2 .3 1.0 3.1
2007–08 Houston 39 25 15.9 .538 .000 .711 5.1 .1 .3 1.2 3.0
2008–09 Houston 9 2 10.7 .385 .000 .667 3.7 .0 .0 1.2 1.8
Career 1196 997 30.8 .518 .000 .684 10.3 1.0 .4 2.8 9.8
All-Star 8 3 17.5 .595 .000 .750 9.3 .3 .4 1.2 6.3

Playoffs[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1993–94 Denver 12 12 42.6 .463 .000 .602 12.0 1.8 .7 5.8 13.3
1994–95 Denver 3 3 28.0 .600 .000 .667 6.3 .3 .0 2.3 6.0
1996–97 Atlanta 10 10 41.5 .628 .000 .719 12.3 1.3 .1 2.6 15.4
1997–98 Atlanta 4 4 34.0 .458 .000 .625 12.8 .3 .3 2.3 8.0
1998–99 Atlanta 9 9 42.2 .563 .000 .702 13.9 1.2 .6 2.6 12.6
2000–01 Philadelphia 23 23 42.7 .490 .000 .777 13.7 .7 .7 3.1 13.9
2001–02 Philadelphia 5 5 34.6 .452 .000 .615 10.6 .6 .4 1.8 8.8
2002–03 New Jersey 10 0 11.5 .467 .000 1.000 2.7 .6 .3 .9 1.8
2003–04 New York 3 0 12.7 .333 .000 1.000 3.3 .0 .3 1.3 2.3
2004–05 Houston 7 0 14.4 .545 .000 .769 5.0 .3 .3 1.0 3.1
2006–07 Houston 7 0 5.7 1.000 .000 1.000 1.6 .1 .0 .4 1.3
2007–08 Houston 6 6 20.5 .615 .000 .636 6.5 .3 .2 1.8 3.8
2008–09 Houston 2 0 10.0 .000 .000 .000 4.5 .0 .5 1.0 .0
Career 101 72 30.9 .517 .000 .703 9.5 .8 .4 2.5 9.1

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dikembe Mutombo. basketball-reference.com
  2. ^ a b McTaggart, Brian (April 22, 2009). "Mutombo suffers career-ending knee injury in Portland". The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  3. ^ About Dikembe Mutombo. Dikembe Mutombo Foundation. Retrieved on March 16, 2010.
  4. ^ "Elias Says...Mutombo grabs 22 boards, Rockets top Nuggets". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  5. ^ Mutombo's Mission Extends Beyond Basketball SI.com, January 26, 2009
  6. ^ "Rocker 108, Blazers 81 Box Score". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Dikembe Mutombo: "For Me, Basketball is Over."". ESPN.com. April 22, 2009. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  8. ^ "AP Report on Mutombo's Retirement". 
  9. ^ "Career Leaders and Records for Total Rebounds". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  10. ^ a b "Dikembe Mutombo Statistics". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  11. ^ Feigen, Jonathan (January 13, 2007). "NBA signs off on Mutombo's finger wave". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  12. ^ "McGrady's OK to play Tuesday vs. Warriors". Houston Chronicle. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f "Dikembe Mutombo Info Page". Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  14. ^ "Dikembe Mutombo to Speak at Georgetown College Commencement - GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE". Guhoyas.com. 2010-04-28. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  15. ^ Posted by Jay NBAFP (2011-04-12). "Dikembe Mutombo To Be Honored by Haverford College". NBA FrontPage. Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  16. ^ "Player Bio: Harouna Mutombo". catamountsports.com. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  17. ^ Pollakoff, Brett (2013-02-03). "Dikembe Mutombo blocks everything in new GEICO commercial (VIDEO)". Probasketballtalk.com. Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  18. ^ a b c d Nance, Roscoe (August 16, 2006). "Mutombo helps Congo take a big step forward with new hospital". USA Today. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  19. ^ http://www.specialolympics.org/Sections/Who_We_Are/Special_Olympics_Board_of_Directors.aspx
  20. ^ Yao Ming and Dikembe Mutombo Reunite
  21. ^ http://www.specialolympics.org/Sections/Sports-and-Games/Unity_Cup.aspx
  22. ^ "President Bush Delivers State of the Union Address". whitehouse.gov. January 23, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-24. 
  23. ^ "Dikembe Mutombo stands tall with Bush(video)". AfricaHit.com. January 24, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  24. ^ a b "Bloomberg School Awards Goodermote Humanitarian Award to Dikembe Mutombo". 
  25. ^ "Mutombo's hospital dream about to come true". Houston Chronicle. 
  26. ^ Rushin, Steve (September 4, 2006). "Air and Space". Sports Illustrated. 
  27. ^ "National Constitution Center, Board of Trustees". National Constitution Center Web Site. National Constitution Center. 2010-07-26. Archived from the original on 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2010-07-27. 

External links[edit]