Dikembe Mutombo’s jersey retired by Hawks

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Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo, the NBA’s Hall of Fame center, was honored by the Atlanta Hawks organization by retiring his jersey number 55 during the halftime of the Hawks and Celtics game.

“I don’t think I ever thought my jersey would be retired,” Mutombo said during the halftime presentation.

“My name will stay forever.”

Standing at 7″2′, the finger-wagging center is the 2nd leading shot blocker in NBA History trailing fellow African, Hakeem Olajuwon. During his time with the Hawks, Mt. Mutombo had been an imposing force in the paint. Up to now, Mutombo reflects and on his playing days and on what could ave been if the team has not been broken up.

“It shows something of the character, the true character, of the team we did have. It was all focused on defense, which is something that not many coaches are teaching today,” Mutombo said of his defensive accomplishments in Atlanta. ” … I still regret a lot how the team was (broken) up. I think the breakup of this team in the late 2000s — I think it hurt so many people. Everybody was like, ‘Why, why, why, why?’ We did have some nice corps (pieces) in the NBA. A lot of people respected us.”

Known right now as a humanitarian, Mutombo spent most of his retirement – and earnings – in philanthropy work.

“I think I have achieved a lot, still have more to do. I think with the gift, with the talent, God gave to me, I think I want to continue to make a difference,” Mutombo said. “Our world is facing a lot of challenges right now. … I’m willing to be part of the change.”

As a Hall-of-fame inductee, Mutombo always thought that he would not get more accolades after being immortalized in Springfield. Nonetheless, it is an honor that Mutombo will take and be thankful of.

“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame, I think, is the highest you can get in your career. But there’s not many people who get a chance to play the game in an arena where your jersey (hangs),” Mutombo said. “So every time that the next generation will come to warm up, a young man will look up (and think), ‘I’m playing on the floor that some of the great legends have walked on.’ It’s part of the vindication.

“My name will stay forever.”

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