Dikembe Mutombo: The Man in the Middle with the Shaking Finger

Avi ScherContributor IIMay 4, 2009

HOUSTON - APRIL 21:  Dikembe Mutombo #55 of the Houston Rockets walks on the floor before the tipoff of Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Utah Jazz during the 2008 NBA Playoffs at the Toyota Center April 21, 2008 in Houston, Texas.  The Jazz won 90-84.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Dikembe Mutombo, Second best block shooter in the history of the NBA, 17th in the all-time rebounding list, he’s a four times defensive player of the year, he got the award with three different teams (Nuggets, Hawks and 'Sixers. Also, only one other player has four defensive awards, Ben Wallace).

What can you say about the Man in the Middle with the shacking finger?

Here are my three must Mutombo memorable moments:

Mutombo, 7'2" played for Georgetown, was draft in1991 by the Denver Nuggets. In is first year in the NBA Mutombo averaged 16.6 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3 blocks a game, that year he was on the NBA all-Rookie first team.

Mutombo was the runner up to Larry Johnson who received the rookie of the year award (David Robinson won the defensive player of the year, having 4.5 blocks a game).

Mutombo’s first year in Denver was great for his rookie year (as we can see by his stats) but the Nuggets had a losing season, finishing 24-58.

The year after Denverfired there coach Paul Westhead and brought in Dan Issel, the next season the Nuggets finish 36-46, just missing the playoffs. But the season after is the season I won’t forget, especially the first round off the playoffs were history was made.

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The season was 1993-94, the Nuggets were able to finish the season with plus .500 season, finishing 42-40, just making the eighth spot in the playoffs. The where set to meet the Seattle Supersonics in the first round (back then the first round was only five games).

The Sonics won the first two games at home, thinking that it’s all over, but they were surprised as the Nuggets won both home games and then came to Seattle to win game five in overtime 98-94. This made the Nuggets the first team in history that finished eighth and knocked out the first seed.

I can still picture the last play of the game when Mutombo grabbed the last rebound and hugged the ball then lied on the floor still hugging the ball screaming and smiling.

In this game five, Mutombo had eight blocks including two blocks (one on Shawn Kemp and one on Detlef Schrempf) in the final 2:00 minutes of the overtime. What a game to remember.

After that the Nuggets met the Utah Jazz and were close again to a one more historic series, but at the end Denver lost to Utah in game seven.

Mutombo average for the 12 playoff games was 13.3 points, 12 rebounds and 5.8 blocks.

Mutombo finished the season with an average of 12.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.1 blocks a game, Mutombo won is first defensive player of the year award and made the All-Star game for his second time (eight times total)

In 1995 Mutombo joined the Atlanta Hawks, Mutombo won two defensive player of the years awards with the Hawks.

My second must memorable Mutombo moment was the year he was traded to the Philadelphia76ers for injured Theo Ratliff (also for Toni Kukoc, Pepe Sanchez and Nazr Mohammed). The 'Sixers knew that if they made it to the finals they will need a big man to help defend Tim Duncan or Shaquille O’Neal.

The year was 2001 (he was traded shortly before the all-star game), the 'Sixers would learn that the move was a very good move.

Dikembe won he’s fourth defensive player of the year award. Put the most memorable part of the year was the finals.

Even though it was Allen Iverson vs. Kobe Bryant, I remember the defense Mutombo played on Shaq, they networks made sure to show it all the time in slow motion, seeing how Shaq spins to the hoop, elbowing Mutombo in the face and Motombo continues to play as is.

Through out the whole series Mutombo took the elbows to his face without saying a word, playing great defense on Shaq. Of course today, those elbows by Shaq are immediately called as a foul.

The third great memory is (of course) the shacking of the finger, letting everybody know that this is Mutombo’s house, if you want to make a lye up or dunk the ball you are going to have to go through Mutombo. When he blocked a shot, he not just knocked the ball away, he made sure to let you know he did it.

Most all-star players that play and played, we were all hoping to see some amazing offensive  moves, no look pass, windmill dunk...etc, but with Mutombo we wanted to see him block a shot, even in the all-star game, we wanted to him block a shot.

It was a lot of fun seeing Mutombo play defense, even this season. He will be missed in the NBA. Mutombo will probably be remembered as one of the greatest big man defender of all times.

I am sure the Mutombo will still be around, is contribution all around the world are will known, his generosity is  appreciated all around the world.

Dikembe Mutombo, we will miss you in the game very much, thank you for your great years and showing all that defense is the name of the game. You will be remembered as the greatest big man defender in Basketball to have every played the game.

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