Courtside Stories: Why the finger wag, Dikembe?

dikembemutombo-fingerEx-NBA star Dikembe Mutombo made a name for himself in the NBA for his ability to play defense, block shots and rebound the ball.

Mutombo is also remembered by his signature move – the finger wag, which he would usually do after swatting away an opponent’s shot.

Mutombo led the NBA in blocked shots five times, and four times – in rebounds.

So how did Mutombo’s finger wag became a signature move? Former center himself once said that it all started just before his Denver Nuggets beat the Seattle Supersonics in the 1994 NBA playoffs. Mutombo said that it was the “proudest success of his  career”.

“I was having such a great year and blocking shots and moving up in the league. I used to block the shot and then I would shake my hand and no one said nothing. One day I decided shaking the hand doesn’t really mean nothing, so I decided to use finger,” Mutombo recalled.

“It it worked out very cool, but it ended up getting me a lot of technicals.”

Since later NBA has banned the “finger waving”, Mutombo found another way to showcase his signature move.

“You would hear from someone that maybe you better stop what you’re doing it’s costing you a lot of money. That’s why in my last 5 years in the NBA I started doing it away from the players face. So I don’t have to lose a couple of thousand dollars,” Mutombo laughed.

Well, one way or another, the NBA sometimes does miss this specific express of emotion, Mutombo’s finger wag, after a block.

Mutombo was an eight time All-Star and appeared in the NBA FInals with the Philadelphia 76ers. Mutombo played in 1196 NBA games (997 started), averaging 9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per contest.

He appeared in 8 NBA All-Star games, and 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.

This post is part of EXNBA’s “Courtside Stories” series. Check out our other series below:
When Hakeem Olajuwon was “out of control” before religion
How adopted kids helped ex-NBA center to play in playoffs
1992 New Jersey Nets and Cleveland Cavs set records
Pippen, Grant never believed Bulls could win 70 games
Tracy McGrady recalls moment when his NBA career was over
Courtside stories: Did NBA force Jordan to leave after gambling issues?


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