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It is a sad day for Houston. I watched this game, and he was in extreme pain.
PORTLAND, Ore. – Perhaps the biggest highlight of Dikembe Mutombo’s career came during the 1994 playoffs when he was lying on the floor holding a ball in the air in joy after leading the Denver Nuggets to a titanic playoff upset of top-seeded Seattle.
Mutombo found himself lying on the floor again Tuesday night, this time pondering the end of his career.
Mutombo, 42, was carried away on a stretcher in the first quarter of the Rockets’ 107-103 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 with what he said was a career-ending left knee injury.
“It’s over for me for my career,” said Mutombo, who will be examined by team doctors when the Rockets return to Houston today.
An eight-time NBA All-Star and four-time Defensive Player of the Year, Mutombo is one of the game’s great humanitarians and had a distinguished 18-year career with Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Houston.
“It’s not something that I planned,” he said. “All I can say right now is I had a wonderful run of 18 years and stayed injury-free. I thank God a lot for all this blessing and putting such great people around me for all of my career in the NBA. I’m just happy.
“I have to go out with my head high and not be disappointed and have no regrets. I have so many things I can be so thankful for over my 18 years.”
Mutombo is in his fifth season with the Rockets after signing with them on Dec. 31. He played in only nine games, but showed his value by grabbing nine rebounds in 18 minutes in Game 1 against Portland.
Mutombo, who had been in the game for less than two minutes, was battling for position under the basket with Greg Oden – who is half the age of Mutombo -- when he fell to the ground in pain and clutched his left knee.
“I cried so much about it when I was laying on the floor, but when I got in the locker room (athletic trainer) Keith Jones and I talked that I needed to be positive and thank God for the wonderful 18 years I have,” he said. “There’s nothing I could want more than playing a wonderful career and doing all these great things I was able to do on the basketball court and being an influence on so many young guys who could look up to me as a role model.”
Mutombo remained under the basket for several minutes while being tended to by team medical officials. A stretcher was finally brought onto the court to carry him off to a nice ovation from the crowd, while his teammates came to his side.
“I have so many great memories,” Mutombo said. “Making it to the NBA Finals, winning the Defensive Player of the Year, winning a blocked shot title. There are so many things I can smile and be happy about all of my accomplishments.
“Nobody ever thought the big fellow would be the person they’re carrying out of the arena. I was going out like a wounded soldier. I think that was one of the best memories, giving myself up for this league and my team and my teammates.”
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
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