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Dikembe Mutombo - Defensive Genius

Famous Sports StarsBasketballDikembe Mutombo Biography - Growing Up In Africa, Develops Basketball Skills, Defensive Genius, Philanthropic Efforts, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments - CONTACT INFORMATION

Defensive Genius

Frustrated with being ignored as an offensive force, coupled with another dismal season that produced only thirty-five wins and no playoff berth, at the end of the 1995-96 season Mutombo exercised his free agency and signed a five-year, $56 million contract with the Atlanta Hawks. In his first year with the Hawks he averaged 13.3 points per game and finished second in the NBA in rebounds (11.6) and blocks (3.3) per game. In 1998, racking up 11.4 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game on the season, Mutombo was singled out as the league's best defensive player for the second consecutive year and for the third time in his career. In the same year, Mutombo was named as a starter for the NBA All-Star game for the first time in his career. The following year he reached a career high season average of 14.1 rebounds per game.

Mutombo played with the Hawks until traded to the Philadelphia 76ers just before the trading deadline in February of 2001. Joining an already successful team, Mutombo continued to dominate on defense. In May of 2001 he became the first player in NBA history to receive a fourth Defensive Player of the Year award. In the same year the 76ers made it into the finals of the NBA playoffs but fell to Shaquille O'Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers. It was the first time in Mutombo's career that he played in an NBA championship series.

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