There are good reasons that the Hawks should and are going to retire Dikembe Mutombo's jersey, as announced during the Fulton County Commissioners event Tuesday morning. The jersey will be hoisted to the rafters on 11/24.
What are the reasons? Glad you asked -- here they come, nerf bullet point style!
- Mutombo, by my own measures, admittedly, came in at #4 in the Greatest of All-Time Atlanta Hawks list I did in 2010. He came in only behind Dominique, John Drew and the late Dan Roundfield. Nobody else added more, in a minimum 300 games, than did Mutombo. So his short stint (5 years) can't be held against him in this context.
- He was the last major free agent to choose Atlanta as a destination and launched that fairly modest post-Nique edition, with Mookie Blaylock (#6 all-time Hawk) and Steve Smith (#9) to the highest heights they could reach.
- He was dominant defensively and was a league leader in rebounds and blocks, despite the pedestrian pace that Lenny Wilkens had the team play.
- He is the GOAT Atlanta Hawk in all of his off-the-court endeavors, a philanthropy leader that the Hawks surely want to include in this recognition.
- His iconic, finger-wagging was the ultimate taunt, so much so that the league outlawed it. Think about that. With all the profane, personal trash that gets levied on the court, the league felt the need to outlaw Mutombo's finger wag. I loved it and still use it to this day.
- His #55 likely wouldn't have been used again anyway, unless they turned me loose on a 10-day contract, where I would most assuredly swat an inbounds pass and immediately launch into a 10 minute finger wag, consequences be danged.
Dikembe Mutombo is going into the Hall of Fame and now also to the Philips Arena rafters alongside Lou Hudson, Bob Pettit and Dominique among the Hawks greats. Congratulations to Dikembe and to the entire Hawks organization for not letting his shorter tenure as an Atlanta Hawk distract from the greatness on and off the court that Mutombo brought to the franchise.