Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Recalling A Hero: Mutombo on the CBC

Call it my love of sport, wrapping it with an African humanitarian effort, and honouring a monster of a defensive talent . I have to write about a story based on what I saw on the CBC Newsworld tonight, about one of my favorite basketball heroes from when I was a kid. I still have Dikembe Mutombo's rookie card: a 1991 Upperdeck basketball card. A smiling 7'2" Dikembe posing amidst a skyline of some sort. Could be New York, during the draft, or it could be Denver, where he got drafted to play. He was chosen in the 1st round, 4th overall by the Denver Nuggets. On the card, he looks upstart in his dark blue blazer with colourful blue tie. He would go on to be become one of the most vicious of shot blockers in the NBA, snatching up rebounds like a Stephen Harper who fumbles with balls.

I remember the Nuggets would go on to upset the top ranked team in the NBA, at the time, the awesome Shawn Kemp and the Seattle Supersonics. It was called the greatest upset in NBA playoff history. Mutombo was younger and more cocky back in 94. Over a decade later, he's pretty much washed up in terms of his play, and it's probably due to being 40 years old now. At 7'2" weighing 245 lbs., how much longer can you go? Now with 6, dependents, 4 of whom are his adopted nieces and nephews, after going hard for over 15 years at 30 some odd minutes on the hardwood slamming your body into much younger and much stronger kids, it's time to start looking after his own.

He's back on solid ground, though still living in the US, but this former pre-med major has dished out over $15 million dollars to charitable ventures back in his homeland of Zaire, which is now called the Democratic Rebublic of Congo. Because of his story, and knowing what I know of what kind of catastrophe that has blasted through his country (amongst other neigbouring countries) having gone into wicked upheaval.... More recently, after going through all the rigours that befalls a retiring athlete you begin to realize that you cannot play so well anymore, or not at all... (sigh... my gut.) Dikembe Mutombo has built something that became the nation's first fully equipped medical facility in over 30 years.

Good story when I consider all that is going on around me, especially in Toronto. We, at Guilty Parties Inc. should try to acknowledge the GOOD Guilty Parties, just to stay balanced, I guess. If I get a little oversensitive or nostalgic at these times, I should apologize, but seeing these things tend to bring me back to other things that I almost forget about, like this mint condition Dikembe Mutombo rookie card. But don't forget to listen a moment to old heroes and hope they have an encouraging story to tell.


Blogger Guilty Parties said...

Very nice post, about someone who I haven't thought about in years. I was a big NBA fan in my youth & Mutombo's is a name that immediately jumps out at me...he didn't do it for me the way Patrick Ewing did, but still, I can give respect where it's due :)

Mike H.

9:42 PM  

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