Thursday, January 11, 2007

who will sex Mutombo?

It's an open-ended question, as this is less full-on love and more of a written hand-job to old childhood memories brought on by the Congo native's (if you run through ESPN's photo gallery, they always mention he's from there) taking over second place on the all-time blocked shots list, wagging his finger every step of the way as he helped the Rockets beat the Lakers last night.

My idolizing of Mutombo at a young age harkens back to the days when the networks had a tendency to frequently broadcast Georgetown games nationally and watching both Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning play -- my friends and I imitated both of them, wishing we could or would be 7-footers with giant wingspans and playing for the flopping, sweating John Thompson, always looking relatively sloppy-natty.

For B.C. (Before Carmelo) era-Nuggets fans, Mutombo holds a place in the formative experience, as watching him writhe on the ground with the basketball as the franchise player on the '93-'94 team that actually upset the #1 seeded SuperSonics (then coached by George Karl) in a five-game series was as good as it had been for the Nuggets in a decade, and was about as good as it would get for Dan Issel as a head coach (when Issel fell off, the team floated with a funny-named fellow until Karl came to town). It was the last team where Mutombo was an essential element of a team rather than a useful, if aging backup, and there's a lot of watching games in the long gone McNichols Sports Arena (including that road game five on the arena's big screen; you paid about $10-$20 to get in and watch a game that was being played 1,000 miles away) that comes back when I watch him wag the finger after rejecting another shot.

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