Remembering When Dikembe Mutombo Was a Scorer & All-Star As A Rookie

In the animated video The House of Mutombo, it tells the story of one of the most well-liked basketball players and arguably the best shot-blocking player of all-time, Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo!

What the story doesn’t tell, that I like to tell, is how much of an offensive-threat Deke was during his rookie season. I believe he could have easily been a 20 and 10 player in the league if he and his teams wanted him to be. Why? Because Deke averaged a career-high 16.6 points a game during his rookie season and was actually an NBA All-Star that year — even though he didn’t win the Rookie of the Year award, which ended up in the hands of No. 1 pick Larry Johnson.

So what happened during the second half of the season? And why was Deke scoring so much in the first half? The scoring controversy around Deke was Coach Paul Westhead put too much on Deke’s shoulder.

“He rode the guy all season and wore him out,” said one Western Conference GM back in 92 “But with that team, he didn’t have much choice.”

17 points a game didn’t sound like a threat to MJ or Nique, but if you think about the Deke you know and try to recall how many times you have seen him score 20 points in a game, and then think about the fact that he had 27 and 17 in his 2nd NBA game, followed by a 21 and 13 in his 3rd, and in the first month of his rookie year he had eight 20/10 games, you have to think that he could have easily put up Zo type numbers. Before the All-Star break, Deke continued to put up games in the high 20s and on February 3rd, he put up a monster 39-point, 21-rebound game against the Timberwolves.

He wasn’t too shabby on the defensive end either, averaging 3 blocks a game. Surprisingly, the one game where Deke blocked 10 shots during his rookie campaign, he failed to grab 10 boards. He would have to wait until his second season to pick up his first triple-double and that triple-double came in the form of a 21 point, 16 rebound, 10 block performance.

Although I would have loved to have seen more of that young scoring Mutombo — who even appeared on The Arsenio Hall show — I can’t complain about the career he had, which included four Defensive Player of the Year awards, eight All-Star games and a future appearance in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.


But he learned in his rookie All-Star debut that man can fly in the House of Mutombo.

Here are a few others who also took flight in the house.

Bonus Video: 29/22 against MJ and the Bulls in 93.


Illustrated by Nathan McKee
Animation by Jamal Qutub, and music from PJ Portlock

Ballislife | Dikembe Mutumbo

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