By: Patrick Waring
(Above Photo Courtesy of Associated Press / Charles Krupa)
Dikembe Mutombo rightfully took his place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last night. The 7’2″ Center controlled the paint and defended the basket for John Thompson Jr. at Georgetown before doing the same in the NBA for 18 seasons. Mutombo’s full name is as long as the arms that gave offensive players fits game after game (his elbows are a whole different story).
Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo, born in the capital city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, arrived at Georgetown University in 1987. Mutombo would play for Thompson and the Hoyas from 1988-1991. Mutombo needed time to develop his game, but he did block 75 shots in his first year, including a NCAA single game record 12 against St. John’s. In the 1990-91 season opener, Mutombo messed around and got a triple double with 32 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocks against Hawaii Loa. In three seasons on the Hilltop, the center averaged 9.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and would total 354 blocks. He received Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 1990 (shared honor with teammate Alonzo Mourning) and 1991, while being named to 1st Team All Big East in 1991.
Mutombo was selected fourth in the 1991 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. As a rookie, he was selected to the NBA All Star Team and made the NBA All Rookie 1st Team by averaging 16.6 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3 blocks per game. Mutombo would go on to play his 18 seasons in the league with Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Houston. He was actually traded by New York to Chicago, but never played a game for the Bulls.
Some have debated or are even surprised by Dikembe’s HOF enshrinement, but numbers don’t lie.
Men lie, women lie, Mutombo’s numbers don’t.
NBA All Star – 8X (1992, 1995-1998, 2000-2002)
NBA Defensive Player of the Year – 4X (1995,1997, 1998, 2001)
NBA All Defensive 1st Team – 3X (1997, 1998, 2001)
NBA All Defensive 2nd Team – 3X (1995, 1999, 2002)
NBA All Rookie 1st Team (1992)
NBA Rebounding Leader – 2X (2000, 2001)
NBA Blocks Leader – 3X (1994, 1995, 1996)
NBA Career Averages – 9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.8 blocks
Mutombo would reach the NBA Finals twice in his career, once with the Philadelphia 76ers and the other with the New Jersey Nets. Known for his finger wag after blocks, he is one of the greatest shot blockers in the history of the league. His 3,289 total rejections are only 2nd to Hakeem Olajuwon (3,830).
Mutombo is a great example of a HOF player. He was a big man who worked hard and did the dirty work. For many years he didn’t play with a true star. It really wasn’t until his 10th season, hooking up with NBA MVP Allen Iverson in Philadelphia. Possibly his most memorable moment took place in his third season. Mutombo and the eighth seeded Nuggets made history by knocking off the number one seed Seattle SuperSonics. This was the first time a No. 8 took out a No. 1 in the NBA Playoffs.
Mutombo will always be known for handing out rejections on the court. When voters sent him an invitation to Springfield, Mutombo proudly accepted.
You can follow me on Twitter @WaringPatrick.