Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo (born June 25, 1966), commonly referred to as Dikembe Mutombo, is a Congolese American retired professional basketball player who played 18 seasons in the National Basketball Association (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, who began his career with the Georgetown Hoyas, is commonly regarded 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 second most prolific shot blocker in NBA history, behind only Hakeem Olajuwon. He averaged a double-double for most of his career, and is 12th all-time in career double-doubles, and tied for second all-time in career triple doubles involving points, rebounds and blocks.
- 1 College
- 2 NBA career
- 3 Player profile
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Media
- 6 Humanitarian work
- 7 Career summary and highlights
- 8 NBA career statistics
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
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.
College awards and honors
- AP All-American Third Team (1991)
- UPI All-American Third Team (1991)
- Big East All-Tournament Team (1991)
- All-Big East First Team (1991)
- 2x Big East Defensive Player of the Year (1990-1991)
- 3rd all time in career blocked shots in Georgetown history (354 blocks)
In the 1991 NBA draft, the Denver Nuggets drafted Mutombo with the fourth overall pick. Coming to a team ranked last in the NBA in opponent points-per-game and Defensive Rating, his presence in the post made an immediate impact. 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.
Mutombo began establishing himself as one of the league's best defensive players, regularly putting up big rebound and block numbers. The 1993–94 season saw Denver continue the steady improvement with Mutombo as the franchise cornerstone, finishing with a 42-40 record and qualifying for the eighth seed in the playoffs. They were matched up with the top-seeded 63–19 Seattle SuperSonics in the first round.
After falling to a 0-2 deficit in the five game series, Denver won three straight games to pull off a major playoff upset by stunning the SuperSonics, becoming the first eighth seed to defeat a number one seed in an NBA playoff series. At the end of Game 5, Mutombo memorably grabbed the game-winning rebound and 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. In the second round of the playoffs, the Nuggets fell to the Utah Jazz 4-3.
The following season, he was selected to his second All-Star game and received the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. However Denver failed to build on their success from the previous playoffs, as Mutombo lacked a quality supporting cast around him. At the conclusion of the 1995-96 season, Mutombo became a free agent, and reportedly sought a 10-year contract - something the Nuggets considered impossible to offer. Bernie Bickerstaff, the Nuggets GM at the time, later said not bringing back Mutombo was his biggest regret as GM.
After the 1995–96 NBA season, Mutombo signed a 5-year, $55 million free agent contract with the Atlanta Hawks. Joining Hawks All-Star Steve Smith, the duo led Atlanta to back to back 50+ win seasons in 1996–97 (56–26) and 1997–98 (50–32). The Hawks defeated the Detroit Pistons in five games in the first round of the 1997 NBA Playoffs, but lost in five games in the second round to the defending champs Chicago Bulls. Mutombo won Defensive Player of the Year both years, continuing to put up excellent defensive numbers with his new team.
It was during his time with the Hawks that he became 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.
At the February 2001 trade deadline, the Hawks traded Mutombo to the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers for their injured center Theo Ratliff. One week earlier, Mutombo played in the All-Star game; he led the game with 22 rebounds and 3 blocks. Along with game MVP Allen Iverson and coach Larry Brown, both of the 76ers, the East rallied from a 95–74 fourth quarter deficit to win 111-110 on Mutombo and Iverson's strong performances. After the game, rumors began of a trade sending Mutombo to Philadelphia. With Ratliff out for the remainder of the year, the Sixers needed a big man to compete with potential matchups against Western Conference powers Vlade Divac, Tim Duncan, David Robinson or Shaquille O'Neal, should they reach the finals.
In arguably his best season as a pro, Mutombo earned his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award that season and also helped the Sixers reach the NBA Finals. After pulling off an upset and winning Game 1 against the Los Angeles Lakers (the only playoff game the Lakers lost in 2001), the Sixers would lose the next four games and the series. Matched up against Shaq, Mutombo averaged 16.8 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. A free-agent, he re-signed with the Sixers after the season for a reported four-year, $68 million contract.
New Jersey Nets
The 2001-02 saw a change in the Eastern conference hierarchy; the Sixers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, while the New Jersey Nets surged to the top of the standings, making it all the way to the Finals against the Lakers (the Nets were swept). Looking for a big man to compete with the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan, the Nets sent Keith Van Horn and Todd MacCulloch to Philadelphia in exchange for Mutombo.
Mutombo however 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 (they lost the Spurs in six games). After one contentious season in New Jersey, the Nets bought out the remaining two years on his contract.
New York Knicks
Prior to the 2004–05 season, the Bulls traded Mutombo to the Houston Rockets. Playing as a reserve behind Yao Ming, Yao and Mutombo formed one of the NBA's most productive center combos. In his first season with the Rockets, 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 received extensive playing time when Yao went down with a broken bone and averaged double digits in rebounding as a starter. In midst of a 10-game winning streak at the time of Yao's injury, Mutombo stepped in and helped the Rockets win 12 more games to complete a 22-game winning streak, a then-team record.
After contemplating retirement and spending the first part of 2008 as an unsigned 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 would be his "farewell tour" and his final season; he was the oldest player in the NBA in 2009. 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.
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. It was later confirmed that the quadriceps tendon of his left knee was ruptured in Game 2. Mutombo announced retirement on April 23, 2009, after 18 seasons in the NBA.
The 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m) 260 lb (120 kg), Mutombo played center, where he was regarded as one of the top inside defenders of all time. Nicknamed "Mt. Mutombo", his combination of height, power, and long arms, 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. He was also an eight-time All-Star and was elected into three All-NBA and six All-Defensive Teams. Along with his defensive prowess, Mutombo could also contribute offensively, averaging at least 10 points per game until he reached age 35.
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. 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."
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. He and his wife Rose have six children, four of whom are adopted.
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. He also received an honorary doctorate degree from Haverford College in May 2011.
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.
In 2012, Mutombo lent his voice and likeness to a 16-bit style Flash game released by Old Spice.
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, 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. 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. He paid for uniforms and expenses for the Zaire women's basketball team during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. Mutombo is a spokesman for the international relief agency, CARE and is the first Youth Emissary for the United Nations Development Program.
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. 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.
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. Mutombo later said, "My heart was full of joy. I didn't know the President was going to say such great remarks."
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." 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.”
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
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. 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. The project has been on the whole very well received at all social and economic levels in Kinshasa.
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.
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. 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
Career summary and highlights
- 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 in Career NBA 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)
- Invited to be a special guest at 2007 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 (40 years old, March 2, 2007 vs. Denver Nuggets)
- Retired NBA alumnus in Team Africa at the 2015 NBA Africa exhibition game.
- Hall of Fame Class of 2015
- #55 Retired by the Denver Nuggets (To be official around the start of the 2015-16 season.)
- #55 Retired by the Atlanta Hawks (November 24, 2015)
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|
- List of National Basketball Association players with 1000 games played
- List of National Basketball Association career rebounding leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career blocks leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career playoff blocks leaders
- List of National Basketball Association season rebounding leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career minutes played leaders
- List of National Basketball Association players with most rebounds in a game
- List of National Basketball Association players with most blocks in a game
- Dikembe Mutombo. basketball-reference.com
- McTaggart, Brian (April 22, 2009). "Mutombo suffers career-ending knee injury in Portland". The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
- About Dikembe Mutombo. Dikembe Mutombo Foundation. Retrieved on March 16, 2010.
- "Elias Says...Mutombo grabs 22 boards, Rockets top Nuggets". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
- Mutombo's Mission Extends Beyond Basketball SI.com, January 26, 2009
- "Rocker 108, Blazers 81 Box Score". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
- "Dikembe Mutombo: "For Me, Basketball is Over."". ESPN.com. April 22, 2009. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
- "AP Report on Mutombo's Retirement".[dead link]
- "Career Leaders and Records for Total Rebounds". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
- "Dikembe Mutombo Statistics". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
- Feigen, Jonathan (January 13, 2007). "NBA signs off on Mutombo's finger wave". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
- "McGrady's OK to play Tuesday vs. Warriors". Houston Chronicle.
- "Dikembe Mutombo Info Page". Retrieved 2007-01-18.
- "Dikembe Mutombo to Speak at Georgetown College Commencement - GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE". Guhoyas.com. 2010-04-28. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
- Jay NBAFP (2011-04-12). "Dikembe Mutombo To Be Honored by Haverford College". NBA FrontPage. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
- "Player Bio: Harouna Mutombo". catamountsports.com. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
- Pollakoff, Brett (2013-02-03). "Dikembe Mutombo blocks everything in new GEICO commercial (VIDEO)". Probasketballtalk.com. Retrieved 2013-02-23.
- "Dikembe Mutombo Info Page". NBA.com. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
- Nance, Roscoe (August 16, 2006). "Mutombo helps Congo take a big step forward with new hospital". USA Today. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
- "Yao Ming and Dikembe Mutombo Reunite". The World of Special Olympics. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- "Special Olympics: Unity Cup". Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- "President Bush Delivers State of the Union Address". whitehouse.gov. January 23, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-24.
- "Dikembe Mutombo stands tall with Bush(video)". AfricaHit.com. January 24, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-06.
- "Bloomberg School Awards Goodermote Humanitarian Award to Dikembe Mutombo".
- "Mutombo's hospital dream about to come true". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on September 10, 2007.
- Rushin, Steve (September 4, 2006). "Air and Space". Sports Illustrated.
- "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.
- "NBA's current, former stars put on show in Africa exhibition". ESPN.com. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dikembe Mutombo.|
- NBA profile
- Basketball-Reference.com: Dikembe Mutombo
- Charting damage by Dikembe
- Dikembe Mutombo Foundation
- ClutchFans.net Dikembe Mutombo Profile - Houston Rocket Fan Site
- On the Shoulders Of A Giant, TIME magazine Europe, April 20, 2003