When the likes of Bismack Biyombo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Gorgui Dieng, Al-Farouq Aminu and Jahlil Okafor look at up at Philips Arena in Atlanta on and after the 24th of November they’ll see Dikembe Mutombo’s retired No 55 jersey hanging proudly. It’s something for them all to aspire towards.
These young players with African links have been set a tremendous example by the great Mutombo, who’s ‘finger-wagging’ antics and shear awe-inspiring defensive effort made him a household name. His is a career that they should all dream of having, playing for many of the top franchises in the league and doing so with distinction.
Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin declared September 1 Dikembe Mutombo day, thereby gonouring the man born in Kinshasa in the DRC for everything he’s done for the Hawks.
Mutombo’s Hall of Fame Enshrinement will take place on Friday, September 11. Koonin also highlighted the former Hawks centre’s humanitarian work. This is something that doesn’t get mentioned enough.
The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation (DMF) is an example of how much he’s willing to give back to those in need. The foundation is dedicated to improving the health, education and quality of life for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He was involved all the way through till its opening in 2007. The Biamba Marie Mutombo hospital is important to him, it’s named after his mother after all. But that isn’t all he, Mutombo, has done as he still works with numerous humanitarian organisations including the likes of UNICEF, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Right to Play and many others.
When any young player sees him they’ll know they have a guiding light, someone whose career they can emulate on and off the court. His accomplishments are world-renowned and in Atlanta they can finally say, ‘Yes! In his house.’ No finger-wagging needed.