Mutombo smiles from ear to ear, watching Hawks retire his jersey

mutombo-smilesMutombo loves Atlanta. He said it himself, smiling from ear to ear, when the Hawks retired his jersey, to honor the longtime shot blocker’s Hall of Fame enshrinement.

Mutombo played for 5 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, and the team thanked the 7-2 center for all his hard work. Mutombo signed as a free agent in 1996 to make Atlanta the second stop on an 18-year career in which he played for five other teams.

Mutombo’s #55 jersey was hung from the arena rafters in a halftime ceremony of the Hawks’ 121-97 win over the Boston Celtics.

“I don’t think I ever thought my jersey would be retired,” Mutombo told reporters. “My name will stay forever.”

“Atlanta, I love you guys,” Mutombo said, when handed the microphone. “I thank you so much.”

During his 18 year playing career, “Mt. Mutombo” was one of the most intimidating shot blockers and rebounders of all time, leading the league in blocked shots five times and rebounds four times.

Mutombo was an eight time All-Star and helped Allen Iverson to reach the 2001 NBA Finals with the Philadelphia 76ers. He played in 1196 NBA games (997 started), averaging 9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per contest.

Mutombo led the NBA in blocks per game in 5 consecutive seasons. In 99-00 and 00-01 seasons, Mutombo also led the NBA in rebounds per game.

Known for his charity and humanitarian work just as much as for his NBA accomplishments, Mutombo was selected to join the 2015 Basketball Hall of Fame.

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