Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Ex-NBA Star Dikembe Mutombo Moved to Tears in Jerusalem
By admin
Published 5 years ago on
November 28, 2018

Share

JERUSALEM — Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo, a fearsome 7-foot-2 center in his playing days, said Tuesday he was moved to tears at the sight of Jerusalem’s ancient walls.

“My parents might be gone, but they instilled in me the dream of coming here, and I’ve made it. I can’t believe I’m really here.” — Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo

Mutombo, who hails from a devout Christian community in Congo, described his first visit to the holy city as an emotional experience. He said he thought about his parents, who died before they could see the place they had spent their lives reading about in the Bible.

“My parents might be gone, but they instilled in me the dream of coming here, and I’ve made it,” he said. “I can’t believe I’m really here.”

Mutombo, an eight-time NBA All-Star who played for six teams, was in town for the inauguration of a new sports center, where he flashed his signature finger-wag and showed off his trademark shot-blocking skills at a clinic in front of a mixed crowd of excited Jewish, Christian and Muslim children.

‘An Oasis of Coexistence’ in Diverse City

The center, located at the city’s YMCA and sponsored by Canadian-Israeli philanthropist and sports enthusiast Sylvan Adams, calls itself an “an oasis of coexistence” in the diverse city, catering to Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Mutombo said that coming from a conflict-ridden country convinced him of the salutary power of sport, and allowed him to relate to politically troubled places.

“Who doesn’t know about all the wars that have taken place here?” he said. “But on the court you don’t talk about whose skin is darker, which ethnicity group you come from, which language you speak. You just play the game.”

In the decade since his retirement, Mutombo has invested millions in philanthropic causes in his native country and abroad. He said he feels at home in his new role as a humanitarian ambassador, especially since the NBA’s golden days of defense are long gone.

Mutombo Praised Young Players’ Free Throws

“All the young kids these days shoot hoops like they’re shooting guns,” he said. “I wouldn’t have lasted more than a year.”

“All the young kids these days shoot hoops like they’re shooting guns. I wouldn’t have lasted more than a year.” — Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo

During the clinic, Mutombo praised young players’ free throws and blocked shots with the flick of his wrist. His booming voice and basso laugh engaged everyone in range.

Emily Polanski, 11, the only girl on the court, said although it’s hard to play alone with so many boys, she dreams of competing one day in the WNBA, and takes Mutombo as an example of how to prevail over obstacles.

“Boy or girl, when you’re playing, it shouldn’t matter,” she said, looking up at the towering Mutombo.

DON'T MISS

How California Legislators Got More Than $1.4 Million in Travel and Gifts in 2023

DON'T MISS

‘Digital Democracy’ Project Penetrates California’s Opaque Political Processes

DON'T MISS

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

DON'T MISS

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

DON'T MISS

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

DON'T MISS

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

DON'T MISS

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

DON'T MISS

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

DON'T MISS

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

DON'T MISS

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

UP NEXT

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

UP NEXT

Ohtani’s Ex-Interpreter Charged With Stealing $16M in Betting Case

UP NEXT

10 Things to Remember about O.J. Simpson

UP NEXT

Great Team Effort Leads Giants to a 7-1 Win Over Nationals

UP NEXT

Tara VanDerveer Retires as Stanford Women’s Hoops Coach After Setting NCAA Wins Record This Year

UP NEXT

College Students Are Flocking to the Marriage Pact, Mostly for Fun, but Some Find Lasting Love

UP NEXT

Correa’s Throw Nabs Ohtani at the Plate in Twins’ Win Over Dodgers

UP NEXT

Abrams Returns From Injury to Power Nationals Past Giants

UP NEXT

Glasnow’s 14 Ks Ties Career High as Dodgers Beat the Twins 6-3

UP NEXT

Nationals Spoil Blake Snell’s Giants Debut in 8-1 Win

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

2 days ago

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

2 days ago

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

2 days ago

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

2 days ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

3 days ago

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

3 days ago

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

3 days ago

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

3 days ago

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

3 days ago

Community Leaders Call for Transparency in Fresno Superintendent Search

3 days ago

How California Legislators Got More Than $1.4 Million in Travel and Gifts in 2023

Last June, more than half of California’s lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats alike, with no particular ideological preference — attended ...

1 day ago

1 day ago

How California Legislators Got More Than $1.4 Million in Travel and Gifts in 2023

1 day ago

‘Digital Democracy’ Project Penetrates California’s Opaque Political Processes

1 day ago

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

2 days ago

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

2 days ago

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

2 days ago

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

2 days ago

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

3 days ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend