HOUSTON — Dikembe Mutombo thinks he deserves induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The 7-foot-2 Mutombo will be eligible beginning in 2015 after his retirement following the 2008-09 season. He ranks second on the NBA’s career blocked shots list (3,256), behind only Hakeem Olajuwon (3,830) and he says surpassing every player but Olajuwon on that list should alone merit inclusion into the Hall. Mutombo was also a four-time defensive player of the year, an eight-time All-Star and twice the league’s top rebounder (2000-01).
“If you can see my name just below one of the great basketball players to ever play for this league,” he said Wednesday, “for me to come this close to breaking his record, I don’t see why I cannot be on the same bus with him. That’s how I look at it.”
On Wednesday, Mutombo joined a group of former NBA and current WNBA players visiting the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, part of the league’s NBA Cares initiative. The event kicked off the NBA’s All-Star festivities in Houston this weekend.
Mutombo played for the Rockets from 2004-09, and he swung by the Toyota Center this week, catching an admiring glimpse of the statue out front honoring Olajuwon. Mutombo also played for Denver (1991-96), Atlanta (1996-2001), Philadelphia (2000-02), New Jersey (2002) and New York (2003-04).
But he feels his closest bond to the Rockets and owner Leslie Alexander, who offered financial as well as organizational support for Mutombo’s personal crusade to build a hospital in his native Congo. Mutombo started his foundation in 1997 with a personal $19 million donation to benefit the people of his homeland. In 2007, he opened the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital and Research Center there, named after his mother.
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