NBA Global Ambassador and Hall of Famer, Dikembe Mutombo, says the future of basketball in Africa is bright.
Mutombo from Democratic Republic of the Congo, attributed that during the NBA Africa Game Time, a digital basketball and lifestyle show event that has returned to YouTube channel.
Launched in 2019, NBA Africa Game Time show was hosted by award winning South African music artiste Sho Madjozi for NBA fans in Africa over the weekend.
Mutombo said: “We see so many young Africans who have come from the continent and who are becoming so passionate and make basketball become one of the most popular sports in Africa today.”
He stressed that there has been a tremendous growing popularity of basketball in the continent.
Mutombo is an eight-time NBA All-Star, four-time Defensive Player of the Year and second shot blocker in NBA history.
He reflects on looking up to Hakeem Olajuwon during his basketball career, his Denver Nuggets defeating the top seeded Seattle SuperSonics in the first round of the 1994 NBA Playoffs, the importance of education and the launch of the Samuel Mutombo Institute of Science and Entrepreneurship in his native Congo in late July.
“Olajuwon was very gifted. He gave me a little bit of trouble and I was able to do my best. He was so good defender, my African brother.”
On being the second shot blocker in NBA history behind Olajuwon, Mutombo said: “It made me feel good that I was able to follow his footsteps..He was my role model. He gave me hope to tell truth. Because we all came from the same place, the same continent, we breathe the same air from the motherland.
“He made me believe that in life it’s not about where you come from, it’s about where you want to go. And I was able to chase that dream.”
About the memorable defeat of the top seeded Seattle SuperSonics by the Denver Nuggets in the 1994 NBA Playoffs says: “We did shock the world at that time. Nobody believed in us. A young team, we were capable to beat a great team like the Seattle SuperSonics. We did believe in ourselves.
“Because basketball is a game of five, I was fortunate to be surrounded by great 12 guys who did believe that whatever you do at the back, you just block the shots, and we’re going to take care of everything else.
“I did break the NBA shot blocking record, almost like 25 blocked shots in five games. I waved the finger to anybody who came in like, no, no, no, not today.”