Former Hawks center Dikembe Mutombo is known for his big smile. He’s also shown that he has an enormous heart.
Mutombo, who also played for the Houston Rockets during his 18-year NBA career, has announced he’s donating $50,000 to a Hurricane Harvey relief fund.
The NBA Hall of Famer also is planning a benefit concert in Atlanta to raise money to assist victims of the storm. The Atlanta Loves Houston event, featuring Princess of Africa Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Peabo Bryson, will be at the Cobb Energy Centre on Sunday, Sept 17. All proceeds benefit hurricane relief efforts in Texas.
“It’s now our responsibility to see what can we do to restore the lives of those who lost everything,” Mutombo said.
The 7-foot-2 Mutombo, 51, has long been involved in cheap authentic jerseys humanitarian work for his native Congo, including building a hospital. He’s also worked with the Special Olympics and CARE, helped with the fight against polio world-wide, and partnered with his alma-mater Georgetown to provide care for visually impaired children from low-income families in Washington, D.C.
Hall of Fame center Dikembe Mutombo, who spent his final five NBA seasons with the Rockets, donated $50,000 to Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Hurricane Harvey Relief fund to help the city he called his “second home.”
“It’s been very painful for me and my family to watch what is happening there,” Mutombo said from his home in Atlanta. “Houston is second home. We still have a house there. We have our clothes there, the furniture. I have not moved out of Houston. It’s very tragic to see those people who have lost everything and those that perish, it’s very sad.
“Even though I’m not playing basketball anymore, I can still do something. Houston has been so great to me. I always say I will not have finished my hospital if not for Houston … for all of the contributions they did to me.”
Dikembe Mutombo travels the world to evangelize about the game of basketball for the NBA. He works in the league office in New York despite living in Atlanta. He has business interests, endorsement deals and a full family.
And he’s still going to the gym two hours a day, five days a week.
Retirement has the Basketball Hall of Famer busier than ever these days. But the former NBA star keeps piling on more. It’s what keeps him going, he told For The Win during an interview at a Mobil 1 event Tuesday near Madison Square Garden. He played a little basketball wearing dress shoes because he’d forgotten his size 22 sneakers at home — one of his more unique difficulties as a 7-foot-2 man on the go.
All this activity has only bolstered Mutombo’s public image. He was a popular player in his day — even nearly being voted as an All-Star starter as a rookie — but his stature has grown with each ensuing finger wag.
“Fans have embraced me since the time I came to the NBA,” Mutombo said.
“Man cannot fly in the House of Mutombo,” he said, quoting the tagline for his first commercials before a long pause. “Adidas came up with that, and I was blocking shots and shutting down the lane. … Everything just went up in Denver. I transformed the city of Denver (as an NBA market). The city came alive, we sold out games, we went to the playoffs, we won big games. Every time I go to Denver, people give me credit for what I brought to the city.”
But Mutombo’s view of his own success runs deeper than his first five NBA seasons in with the Nuggets, as he went on to explain:
“I have become more famous because everything I said I was going to do on the court, I did it. I said I want to be one of the best shot-blockers in the game. I went and pushed myself every given night to accomplish it. I told the media I wanted to be one of the great rebounders, I went and won so many rebounding titles. I went and said I wanted to be on the All-Star team, I end up starting in the All-Star team.
“There’s a lot I should be proud of. But I gave to my fans what I told them I would. It’s not easy to deliver. Don’t talk to if you’re not going to do it. That’s the thing that’s driven me to success. I never want to disappoint people.
“I remember in ’97 when I said I was going to build a hospital in Congo. People said, ‘Are you crazy? You’re a basketball player. What do you know about medicine? Be careful about a hospital. People die.’ I said, ‘People die everywhere. But I’m going to try to save as many lives as I can.’ … So I sat down with a group of scientists, scholars, and they helped me build this hospital, and we’ve treated more than 260,000 women and children and is still running by itself financially. I can sit there and say, mmm, I did it. Sometime in life, you have to be driven and push yourself to excellence.”
So what’s next for a man who lives by his word? Mutombo offered an update of sorts on his previously reported interested in buying one of his other former teams.
“I’m putting together a group to buy the Houston Rockets, and we’re getting close,” he said. “Getting close in the next couple weeks, maybe I’ll have a chance. Lot of people, lot of people and good people with a lot of money.”
Mutombo wouldn’t give out any names. But would you bet against him?