Dikembe Mutombo, the former 18-year NBA center and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, has lived a massive life, both in respect to his physical stature, and societal impact.
During his day, the 7-footer proved to be one of the league’s most dominant defenders, winning Defensive Player of the Year honors on four times, including 2001, when he finished the season with the 76ers.
As his successful career progressed, and certainly much more so since it ended in 2009, Mutombo has also made a point to give back, his generous spirit born from humble beginnings.
Now in the ninth season of his tenure as the NBA’s Global Ambassador, the 52-year old native of the Congo was on hand in Shanghai this past week to watch the first meeting between the 76ers and Dallas Mavericks in the NBA China Games series.
While in town, he joined The BroadCast to discuss his introduction to basketball, why growing the game around the globe is important to him, and the strong kinship he’s developed with fellow African Joel Embiid.
Click below to listen to the complete conversation, and read excerpts from the interview.
As you’re going around the globe, introducing fans to the game, what do you want them to know about the sport?
“We want them to turn their TV on, watch our game, enjoy our game, learn our game, and also pick up our games. The things the players are doing, take it to the backyard and see if they can play some hoop. Being active – we also want [fans] becoming active, taking care of their health.”
The sport seems so popular here in China.
“They’re wonderful fans, we love them so much. Our game is so pupoular the way it is here. We thank our players for their contributions, and also we thank our fanbase in Asia, the way they have embraced our game, our product, our content, look after our players and know our players and watch them and study them. It’s been great. I don’t think there’s a place where fans study the game much deeper than in China.”
What are your feelings about Joel Embiid?
“I’m so proud of him as a brother, maybe as a father figure, as a legend of the game, as a fellow African. What Joel is doing makes us [Africans] makes all of us very proud, because we saw him even before he arrived in American college, arriving in Basketball without Borders and competing, and trying to show the world, ‘I want to learn this game, I want to get better, I want to grow, and I think I can succeed.’ And he showed us a long time ago, and by him coming here and succeeding, it makes all of us proud, and we can look back and go tell more kids the story of Joel, and maybe they can follow in his footsteps.
“Joel’s got a great trajectory, and I’m very happy the direction that he’s going. He’s a funny young man. I love watching him.
How about the state of the Sixers?
“I think the Sixers are in a great position in the East. Many people ask me in China, ‘What do you think of the Sixers?’ I believe the Sixers have a shot to come out from the East. The Process has already finished, and the time has come for them to win, and kick somebody’s butt.”
To sign up for The BroadCast podcast feed, click any one of the following links: