NBA Shot Blocking Legend Dikembe Mutombo to Start Treatment for Brain Tumor

by Dustin Schutte
(Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

NBA shot-blocking legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo has started treatment for a brain tumor. The league released a statement on behalf of the family on Saturday.

Mutombo has been one of the league’s most beloved figures since the start of his career in 1991. He became one of the most dominant defensive big men ever during his two decades on the hardwood, blocking 3,289 shots. That total ranks second all-time in NBA history.

 “NBA Global Ambassador and Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo is currently undergoing treatment for a brain tumor,” the league’s statement said.

“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.”

Mutombo spent 18 seasons in the NBA and played for six organizations. He spent time with the Denver Nuggets (1991-96), Atlanta Hawks (1996-2001), Philadelphia 76ers (2001-02), New Jersey Nets (2002-03), New York Knicks (2003-04) and Houston Rockets (2004-09).

The NBA did not provide any further information on Mutombo’s diagnosis.

Dikembe Mutombo’s Hall of Fame NBA Career

One of Georgetown’s patented big men, Mutombo was the No. 4 overall selection in the 1991 NBA Draft. His success in college translated to the next level, becoming a superstar in the professional ranks.

Mutombo earned All-Star honors eight times during his career and was also a league leader in blocks three times and rebounds twice. Four times in his career, the center earned the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year honor.

Mutombo’s No. 55 has been retired by both the Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks.

In 18 seasons, Mutumbo nearly averaged a double-double, scoring 9.8 points and grabbing 10.3 rebounds per game. He also averaged 2.8 blocks per contest as an NBA center.