Dikembe Mutombo will be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame tonight, a well-deserved recognition for a remarkable NBA career. From the finger wag, to playing until he was seemingly in his sixties, to his cookie-monster voice, crying on the court and bear-hugging the ball after upsetting the Seattle SuperSonics in 1994, Mutombo was, and frankly still is, a singular character in the basketball world.
Yet for all of his con-court decoration, Mutombo’s had just as much, if not more, of an impact after he retired. He’s been integral in the NBA’s efforts to build the game in Africa, serving as an ambassador both for the league and the sport overall. This summer, he participated in the NBA’s first “Basketball Without Borders” game in South Africa. What better way to commemorate such a long, storied career than by celebrating the very thing for which we most recognize Mutombo: Blocks. It’s a testament to his longevity that so many of these blocks come in different uniforms – Hawks, Nuggets and the Rockets among them. His recovery was also astounding. For a man as tall and lanky as the towering Mutombo, he had an amazing ability to recover and get back in position to block the follow-up attempt. One thing that never changed, even as his uniforms changed, though, was him wagging his finger any chance he got.
We doubt it’ll happen, as it might tarnish the hoity-toity atmosphere of a Hall of Fame enshrinement, but perhaps Mutombo can finally give a definitive answer to the decades-old questions about his possible college dating rites?