I'm usually a stick-to-the-book, look-at-the-numbers type of guy. However, I also believe there are exceptions for everything. Dikembe Mutombo might not have the statistics to be in the Hall of Fame, but he deserves to be enshrined.
Sadly, Mutombo's career came to an end yesterday, after becoming awkwardly entangled with Greg Oden. It was painful to watch the 18-year veteran being carried off on a stretcher in tears.
Mutombo said: "For me, basketball is over." He took it like a true player, said he was happy with his career and was proud to go out like a wounded soldier.
Here are some of Mutomobo's career accomplishments:
-Four-time defensive player of the year (1995, 1997, 1998, and 2001). He made six appearances on the NBA All-Defensive teams.
-Eight-time All-Star (1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, and 2002).
-Second greatest shock-blocker of all-time, only behind Hakeem Olajuwon.
-Lead the Denver Nuggets to one of the greatest upsets in playoff history, as his No. 8 seeded squad beat the No. 1 seeded Seattle SuperSonics in five games. Everybody knows the iconic image of Mutombo laying on the floor, gripping the basketball with ecstasy.
-He helped Allen Iverson lead a not-so-great Philadelphia 76ers team to the NBA finals in 2001. They would succumb to the Lakers in five games, but pulled off a game one shocker.
What's equally impressive is Mutombo's off the court actions.
He will forever be known as one of the best humanitarian ambassadors for the NBA. He has been inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.
Mutombo has raised and contributed millions of dollars to help provide good health in Africa. He spends a lot of time trying to better the world, and uses the resources that he earned via his excellent, hard work in the NBA.
The NBA will never see that finger wag or hear his Kermit-esque voice again.
There is only one Dikembe. One of the greatest defensive players and one of the nicest men ever to grace the NBA.