NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo undergoing treatment for brain tumor

NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor, the league announced in a statement on Saturday. Further information is unclear, as Mutombo’s family has asked for privacy during the matter. 

The full press release:

NBA Global Ambassador and Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo is currently undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. He is receiving the best care possible from a collaborative team of specialists in Atlanta and is in great spirits as he begins treatment. Dikembe and his family ask for privacy during this time so they can focus on his care. They are grateful for your prayers and good wishes.”

A native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mutombo first came to prominence at Georgetown University under legendary head coach John Thompson. After winning two Big East Defensive Player of the Year Awards, he was selected No. 4 overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 1991 NBA Draft

He made an immediate impact, averaging 16.6 points, 12.3 rebounds and three blocks per game during his rookie season, which was good enough for an All-Star selection. Though he lost out on Rookie of the Year to Larry Johnson, his debut was a sign of things to come. 

In the 1993-94 season, Mutombo had his official breakout during the first round of the playoffs, as he helped lead the No. 8 seed Nuggets to a dramatic comeback over the top-seeded Seattle SuperSonics. Down 2-0 in the best-of-five series, the Nuggets won three straight to eliminate the Sonics, who had the best record in the league that season. Mutombo blocked 31 shots in the series, and his rebound and celebration at the buzzer of Game 5 is an indelible moment. 

Over 18 seasons with the Nuggets, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets, Mutombo established himself as one of the best defenders in the league. He won four Defensive Player of the Year Awards, which is tied for the most all-time, made six All-Defensive Teams, led the league in blocks three times and rebounding twice. In addition, he made eight All-Star teams, three All-NBA Teams and created one of the league’s iconic celebrations with his finger wag after blocks. 

Post-playing career, Mutombo has done terrific humanitarian work across the globe. Perhaps most notably, through his foundation, he helped build the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, named for his mother, in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa. He has also worked with the Special Olympics and Basketball Without Borders. 

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