The kinship of Philadelphia 76ers big men runs rather deep.
Retired NBA great Dikembe Mutombo told Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated on Wednesday that he sees star Sixers center Joel Embiid like a son and prays daily for the 23-year-old and his healing.
Dikembe Mutombo told me he views Joel Embiid "like my son." Mutombo daily tries to "find a place where I can pray for him, may God heal him"
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) August 16, 2017
Mutombo presumably sees a lot of himself in Embiid — both of them were born and raised in Africa before going on to attend college in America and eventually being selected near the top of their respective NBA draft classes.
The eight-time All-Star still keeps an active profile in issues of NBA interest, and hopefully his next step will be teaching Embiid to finger-wag properly.
Dikembe Mutombo finished off his illustrious NBA career with the Houston Rockets, and now he wants to own the team.
Mutombo told FOX 26 that he is in the process of trying to put together a group to fund the purchase of the Rockets, who were surprisingly put on sale Monday by owner Leslie Alexander.
“I’m working on it,” Mutombo said, via FOX 26’s Mark Berman. “I’m talking to a lot of people already since (Monday). We’ll see. I’m just talking to the people who can cut the check and they can make me be part of it. I’m working on that.”
Mutombo said he is finding a lot of interested parties, and is bullish on the organization’s future.
“It’s like someone who’s already sitting on the runway trying to take off. That’s what kind of team the Rockets are right now,” Mutombo said. “The Rockets are a great franchise. They have a great team. They’ve got great coaches, great basketball players, great staff. Whoever is coming in, it’s not like they’re going to have to rebuild it.
“I’m trying to convince some people about trying to buy this team. It’s one of the best franchises right now. It’s really the right time.”
Mutombo said he “missed my opportunity” to buy the Atlanta Hawks two years ago, where his jersey is retired. His Rockets career may not have been as memorable, but he’s clearly enthusiastic about the opportunity.
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Dikembe Mutombo’s signature finger wag has experienced a resurgence amongst American swimmers at this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Rio. Fortunately, they appear to have the blessing of the four-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Mutombo came out on Friday and said that he’s cool with Michael Phelps, who waved his finger at South African rival Chad le Clos after beating him in the 200m butterfly, and Lilly King, who shook hers in disapproval at Russian counterpart Yulia Efimova, using his patented move.
“Copying my move, it really doesn’t bother me,” Mutombo said, per Nina Mandell of For The Win. “As long as they recognize who they got it from.
“I care more about who’s the best, who’s the best in the game, who’s the best in the competition,” Mutombo continued. “… I did it because I believed I was the best in the game. Nobody else could block a shot better than me, no one could dunk on me.”
The eight-time All-Star was significantly less understanding when former Raptors big man Bismack Biyombo tried busting out the move on the basketball court last postseason. But with Phelps and King winning a combined eight medals (seven of them gold) this summer, Mutombo probably figures they’ve earned the right to a wag or two.
After losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Raptors have fought back to tie the series 2-2. Among the reasons for Toronto’s improved play has been outstanding performances by Bismack Biyombo.
Biyombo has been a dominating force in the paint, seemingly grabbing every rebound in sight and protecting the rim. In the Raptors’ two wins against the Cavaliers, Biyombo has averaged 20 rebounds and over three blocks per game.
After swatting a shot, the 23-year-old big man has seen wagging his finger, reminiscent of Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo. Biyombo has reportedly said Mutombo gave his approval for Toronto’s center to use it. Mutombo, however, laughed and said not so fast when caught by TMZ cameras.
Basically, Mutombo wagged his finger at Biyombo with the “I don’t know when did that conversation took place. Him and I need to talk this summer.”
With Jonas Valanciunas getting injured during the Raptors’ series with the heat, and having not played in eight consecutive games, Biyombo has made the most of increased playing time. In fact, he’s put up some Mutombo-like stat lines. Biyombo might want to hold off on the finger wags though, atleast for now.
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Did Dikembe Mutombo have inside information when he tweeted congratulations to the Philadelphia 76ers on winning the top overall pick nearly three and a half hours prior to the NBA Draft Lottery? That’s what many are wondering.
At 4:36 pm ET, Mutombo tweeted a photo of himself in a 76ers jersey alongside Allen Iverson, who was Philadelphia’s No. 1 overall pick in 1996. His message congratulated the Sixers on winning this year’s top pick too:
Did Dikembe Mutombo spoil the draft lottery? pic.twitter.com/yuVs8ok45j
— Sportando (@Sportando) May 17, 2016
After receiving some heat for the suspicion-arousing tweet, Mutombo tweeted this follow-up:
— Dikembe Mutombo (@officialmutombo) May 17, 2016
Of course, when it was revealed nearly four hours later that the Sixers had in fact won the lottery and therefore the top overall pick, Mutombo’s tweet became true.
A PR director for the Sixers responded to an email query from Deadspin and said Mutombo did not have access to special information and that he was just tweeting based on the odds favoring Philly.
Given that Mutombo correctly predicted the 76ers would win the lottery, that makes him quite the soothsayer:
DIKEMBE KNEW pic.twitter.com/JChSqpZjgL
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) May 18, 2016
Dikembe Mutombo right now:https://t.co/e95DBG5EH8
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) May 17, 2016
Does this mean Mutombo is just good at predicting the future? Or was he trying to cover his behind with those tweets? It’s tough to say, but we know what happened the last time he denied something.
Former NBA player Dikembe Mutombo was at Brussels Airport in Zaventem on Tuesday when the city was hit by terrorist attacks that left 31 dead and 300 injured.
Mutombo, who is one of the most charitable athletes of his time, was at the airport looking to connect flights after doing some humanitarian work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Mutombo told ESPN’s Lindsay Czarniak about his experience and says he was resting at a lounge when he heard a woman walk in and yell to everyone to clear out and start running.
“The lady walked in and screamed, ‘out out, everybody run!'” Mutombo recalled.
Mutombo said he looked around to see what was going on and took the advice and started to run.
“There was a lot of panic. I was trying to figure out where the panic was coming from,” said Mutombo. “We ran all of the way to the tarmac. It was just sad to see all the old women with babies and old ladies who couldn’t walk. It was just sad to see them.
“I was lucky. When we got outside, there was nobody there. The bus dropped everybody outside the airport. I was just standing there trying to talk to my wife and kids.”
Mutombo says two American men recognized him, approached him and helped lead him to safety. He says they asked if he was former NBA player Dikembe Mutombo and asked him if he wanted to get away from the mess. He said yes and followed them away. He says he was given shelter and a place to sleep and driven to Amsterdam airport to fly home.
“You just don’t know when you’re going to have an angel on your side. And those were my two angels,” said Mutombo, thanking the men.
On Tuesday, explosions at Zaventem International Airport and Maelbeek metro station in Brussels Belgium resulted in several casualties and numerous injuries. Among those at the airport at the time of the attack was NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo.
Thankfully, Mutombo was unharmed as he was waiting for a flight back to the United States after visiting one of his foundation’s hospitals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After the events, Mutombo posted two photos and messages to Facebook, letting everyone know he was safe.
Mutombo recalled his experience during an interview with Brooke Baldwin of CNN, telling her he grabbed his bag and started running through the terminal.
“I just feel bad for the families of the loved ones that lost their lives,” Mutombo continued. “I feel bad for all the moms and all the citizens that was there that couldn’t run and that couldn’t move. It was very crazy. So many moms were trying to push their two kids and three kids. It was very sad.”