Basketball league curator Dikembe Mutombo is being treated for a brain tumor, the NBA said Saturday.
The former center back played 18 seasons in the NBA with six teams, gaining a reputation as one of the best savers in the league, helping him win Defensive Player of the Year four times in his career. .
Mutombo’s early years were spent with the Denver Nuggets, who drafted him in 1991, and the Atlanta Hawks – with both teams. retired his number 55 shirt. He also played for the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.
“Dikembe Mutombo is currently being treated for a brain tumor. He is receiving the best care possible from a collaborative team of professionals in Atlanta and is in great spirits as he begins treatment,” the NBA said in a statement.
“Dikembe and his family ask for privacy during this time so they can focus on taking care of him. They are very grateful for your prayers and well wishes.”
The 56-year-old, 7 feet 2 inches tall, is an eight-time All-Star and is second on the all-time career list. His iconic wave after a successful save has been copied by several players.
He is also known for his humanitarian work, becoming the first person to receive the NBA’s humanitarian award twice, largely due to his work with the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation.
Founded in its native Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997 to raise funds for charity, it has resulted in a $29 million 300-bed hospital dedicated to fighting malaria.
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