Legendary basketball player Dikembe Mutombo is being honored for his widespread career, both on and off the court, by receiving the Sager Strong Award at the NBA Awards on Monday (June 25), airing live on TNT at 9 PM ET.
Named after the equally iconic Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager, this award is presented on an annual basis to a person who embodies “courage, faith, compassion and grace.” Of course, we feel those qualities exemplify Mutombo’s legacy to a tee, but let’s look at the key reasons as to why he 100% deserves this prestigious honor.
Take a look below to see why Dikembe Mutombo is the perfect candidate to take home the 2018 Sager Strong Award:
10. He’s an 8-time NBA All-Star
Mutombo was a star player in the NBA All-Star Games during 1992 (in Orlando), 1995 (in Phoenix), 1996 (in San Antonio), 1997 (in Cleveland), 1998 (in NYC), 2000 (in Oakland), 2001 (in Washington, D.C.) and finally in 2002 (from Philadelphia). Although he bounced between Eastern Conference and Western Conference frequently, he was always a valuable player.
9. He was a Round 1 pick, 4th overall, in the 1991 NBA Draft
Mutombo was selected by the Denver Nuggets, and went on to show off one of the finest shot-blocking performances in the league’s history. In this year, he also trademarked that signature “Not in My House” finger wave that’s since become legendary.
8. He turned his 7’2, 260 lb frame into a record-setting “Mt. Mutombo” franchise
While he isn’t the tallest, he’s certainly up there with the highest-peaking players out there. It’s this biological quality that made him one of the hardest guys to climb on the court.
7. He proved to be a marketable player outside of basketball with his GEICO commercials
Hilarious. On point. Not. In. My. House.
6. Trademarking the #55 Jersey
For every team he’s played on — the Denver Nuggets, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets — Mutombo has held down the #55. He even had the honor of having the number retired by both the Nuggets and Hawks.
5. “The Dikembe Mutombo Song” with Jimmy Kimmel and Aloe Blacc
Today a NBA legend, tomorrow a GRAMMY-winning vocalist. Okay, at the very least a comedian.
4. His charity work through Dikembe Mutombo Foundation
Working primarily to provide health care and conduct disease prevention research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the DMF is more amazing than we can even try to summarize here. Do yourself a service and check out all the great work Mutombo is doing by clicking here.
3. His stellar NBA highlight reel
Of all these things, it’s pretty clear that the most important quality Mutombo possesses is his ability to ball. See above to get a look at the greatness.
2. His induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Mutombo is definitely no stranger to getting awarded with accolades. He received the highest honor in 2015 when he was officially deemed a NBA Hall of Famer. Watch his full enshrinement speech from the ceremony above.
1. The adidas Mutombo sneaker
We see sneaker collabs with athletes all the time now, but the adidas Mutombo silhouette was a pioneer in more ways than one. Not only was it the first signature athlete shoe by adidas after Patrick Ewing split in 1989, but even the FIDM Museum Fashion Council uses pictures of the African-inspired design in a few of their presentations. Fashion killa!
The 2018 NBA Awards on TNT – presented live from historic Barker Hangar in Los Angeles – will honor all of the league’s top performers from the 2017-18 NBA season, including the exclusive unveiling of the Kia NBA MVP, Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Kia NBA Rookie of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award, among others.