The Atlanta Hawks honoured Hawks legend and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall-of-Famer, Dikembe Mutombo by retiring his jersey during a game against Boston Celtics yesterday.
When your jersey goes up, nobody can take it down.
Mutombo played for the Hawks from 1996 to 2001. He is an eight-time NBA All-Star and four-time Defensive Player of the Year who led the NBA in blocked shots from 1994 to ‘98.
‘I’m so happy that the Hawks are honouring me with such a wonderful event, which is a historical event because when your jersey goes up, nobody can take it down,’ Mutombo said recently.
The ceremony was aired on national US television and included speeches from influential figures like NBA Commissioner Adam Silver who had nothing but praise for the NBA All Star: ‘Dikembe was a great player on the court and an even greater man off the court. In 2007 built a hospital in the DRC (Biamba Marie Mutombo), in memory of his mother and impacted more than 140,000 people.’, Hawks co-owner Tony Ressler, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed and Mutombo’s former Hawks teammate Steve Smith were also in attendance.
Hawks players on the pitch wore No. 55 patches for the game and the whole audience received finger-wagging foam hands referring to Mutombo’s signature ‘No, no, no’ gesture following blocking shots.
It was clearly a proud moment for Dikembe who is from Congo. ‘I would have never thought that one day a son of the Congo would be here having his jersey retired. It means a lot to me and my family. I came here with a dream and it’s great to see the dream come true,’ he said during his speech.
Mutombo is the NBA’s first Global Ambassador, working in Africa and across the globe to spread the social benefits of basketball. He’s also a regular at the Basketball without Borders Africa camp every year and took part in the landmark first-ever NBA Africa Game in Johannesburg in August. We wish him the best moving forward!
Follow Dikembe on Twitter @officialmutombo