ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — This weekend, Dikembe Mutombo is being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. I thought I’d share a story.
Two years ago, on Saturday afternoon at the All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, I swung by a hotel ballroom that adidas had transformed into a lounge for the weekend. You spend so much time running from event to event at All-Star, finding a place where you can just sit and chill for ten minutes is honestly a real treat.
So I strolled into this room, with a DJ spinning in the corner and dark, dramatic lighting, and made for a big couch I spotted in the corner. As I approached, I realize there was already someone sitting on this couch: Dikembe Mutombo.
I covered the end of Mutombo’s time as an Atlanta Hawks center when I was just beginning my career, and always enjoyed getting a chance to catch up with him.
Mutombo was holding an oversized muffin, and was just taking his first bite as I sat down next to him.
“What’s up, Deke?” I said.
Mutombo, his mouth full, silently nodded greetings back.
“Have you been running around all weekend?” I asked.
More nods and chewing. No words.
“Wow, you must really be hungry. You’re really doing work on that muffin.”
Another nod. Another bite. Chewing.
“Well, I’d shake your hand but I’m afraid I might lose a finger.”
And at that point, Mutombo reached up his right hand and gave me his signature “no” finger wag. And we both laughed.
Here’s a claymation tribute the Atlanta Hawks posted to Twitter. Congrats on getting elected to the Hall of Fame, Dikembe. Couldn’t happen to a better person.