describe Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba
Jean-Jacques Wamutombo, one of the African
continents greatest exports to
the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Simply known as Dikembe Mutombo all over
the world, this legend now retired is back
in South Africa to do what he does best when
he is not playing basketball - giving back
to the community - and through
the annual Basketball Without Borders programme
which is currently being held at the American
International School of Johanneburg,
where Mutombo and eleven of his colleagues
from the NBA and WNBA are in the country
to conduct coaching clinics and share
their life's experiences with 60 basketball players
from 23 countries in the African continent.
These young African players from different
walks of life will for two more days get
an experience of a life time by rubbing shoulders
with some of the great names that
have played the game of basketball and interacting with them.
"For past 16 years that I have been involved
with this programme I have seen many changes.
But I still want young African players to have
the same access to the game (basketball)
that I had so that there can be more Dikembes
coming from this continent.
"They must also remember who they are
and where they come from," said
the 43-year-old Mutombo.
Mutombo also believes that the African players
are getting the recognition they deserve
in the NBA as they have made impact an the league.
"Of course African players have been making
an impact in the NBA, Hakeem Olajuwon
who was a champion with the Houston Rockets
and he has been in the top five for the most
rebounds and blocks in the NBA and so have I,
" said the former Denver Nuggets player,
who rates Olajuwon as one of the
toughest players he has ever played against.
"I have also played in the two NBA finals and
DJ Mbenga was a champion with
the Los Angeles Lakers last season."
Standing at 7ft2 (2.18m tall), Mutombo
is a very hard man to miss and he makes
an impact where ever he goes and it was
no suprise when he was quickly horded
by the pupils of the American school,
who were amazed at the Democratic
Republic of Congo born player's height and
his custom made size 22 sneaks aptly-called
Mutombo 55, the number he wore
through out his playing career.
Mutombo duly obliged the attention he received
from the pupils, who asked everything from
his shoe size, height and to those who
did not know him, his name.
"I am Mutombo" he responds with a loud roar
to his newly acquired young fans.
"They love me in Africa that's why I am
always happy to be here," said Mutombo
who was a first round fourth pick in
the 1991 NBA draft.
Despite retiring from an illustrious basketball
career which has spanned 17 years, which
has seen him play in two NBA finals,
participate in eight NBA All Star games and
break numerous records during his career.
Now Mutombo's focus is getting his
knee better after battling with injury in his
last season in the NBA, and focus on
the his hospital which he built and named
after his late mother "Biamba Marie
Mutombo Hospital" and to also expand
his business interests in Africa.
"I want to get my knee better so can be able
to walk without pain, I also want to look
into other business ventures like oil
and mining - Africa is very rich in resources,"
"I also want to focus running my hospital."
Mutombo also wants to continue with
his charity work as it is part of the man's nature.
"I never stop giving to charity" said the man mountain.
On summing up his basketball career Mutombo
feels he has given his all in the sport and the sport
has given back to him and he is
happy with his contribution to basketball.
"I am happy I have no regrets, I have played
against some of the best players the sport
has ever produced and I have also
broken many records, so I am satisfied,"
Article and pictures by Manyehlisa Lehohla,
edited by Victor Shakineza
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