Dikembe Mutombo made waves Tuesday afternoon when he sent a tweet congratulating the Philadelphia 76ers on winning the draft lottery, well before the drawing took place.
Mutombo ended up being right, which fueled all of the usual conspiracy theories. But Mutombo wants to make sure everyone knows he didn’t actually get a heads-up about the Sixers’ lottery finish, and he explained the mix-up in an interview with Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press:
Mutombo played for the 76ers during his Hall of Fame career and now works for the NBA as a global ambassador. On Tuesday afternoon, he received an email from the Sixers organization asking him if he would post a congratulatory message on Twitter if the 76ers won.
The email, obtained by AP, showed some sample tweets that could be used. He copied and pasted one onto his Twitter page — but then immediately sent it.
“It was like maybe 30 seconds, then I realized, ‘Whoa! What did I do here?'” he said. “But it was too late. It was out in the air.”
Mutombo quickly deleted the tweet, which included a picture of himself and Allen Iverson, his teammate when the 76ers went to the 2001 NBA Finals. He soon posted another tweet saying he was just excited and had gotten ahead of himself, but was still hoping for a Sixers victory.
That checks out, and it’s a mistake you can absolutely see someone making if they aren’t thinking carefully enough. The lottery is obviously not fixed — the NBA lets reporters into the room when the drawing takes place, and firsthand accounts like this one from K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune describe in painstaking detail the process, which seems impossible to rig even if the league wanted to do so.
That doesn’t make Mutombo’s snafu any less funny, and it will go down in history with Roger Mason, Jr.’s lockout-era “How u” and that time Jared Dudley’s sources told him LeBron James was signing with the Knicks in 2010. Except this time, it turned out to be right.