Dikembe Mutombo is one of the most well known defenders in NBA history, whether it be for his huge blocks or his Geico commercials. What some people may forget is that Dikembe Mutombo played for eighteen seasons in the NBA, playing until he was 42. What people forget even more is that Dikembe Mutombo had a short stint on the Knicks towards the end of his career, and today I want to dive into the Dikembe Mutombo Knicks stint.
Dikembe Mutombo was drafted into the NBA at age 25 to the Denver Nuggets with the fourth pick in the 1991 NBA Draft. In his storied career, Dikembe Mutombo played 1196 games, averaging 9.8 points per game, 10.3 rebounds per game, and an insane 2.8 blocks per game. Dikembe was a four time Defensive Player of the year in 1994, 1996, 1997, and 2001. Dikembe was also an 8x NBA All-Star in the years 1992, 1995-1998, as well as 2000-2002. Dikembe is 20th all-time in rebounds with 12,359, and is 2nd all-time in blocks with 3289 blocks. After twelve seasons split between the Nuggets, Hawks, 76ers, and Nets, Dikembe landed in New York. This was really the start of the downfall of his career, but let’s analyze his single season on the Knicks.
Dikembe Mutombo came to the Mecca of basketball known as New York in 2003. For a 37 year old, Dikembe surprisingly played in 65 games that season, starting in 56 of them. Dikembe played an average of 23 minutes per game, impressive for his age. In those 23 minutes per game he averaged 5.6 points per game and an impressive 1.9 blocks per game. He did really start regressing in his ability to pull down rebounds, only averaging around six rebounds per game, down from his career average of 10.3 rebounds per game. In that season the Knicks accomplished to get a 39-43 record, surprising considering they went through three head coaches that season. Other players on this team included starts such as Stephon Marbury and Allan Houston. In an Eastern Conference still recovering after the loss of the Michael Jordan Bulls, a 39-43 record was good enough to get the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks were seeded against an elite New Jersey Nets who went 47-35 and were 2nd seed in the East. The playoffs were where the decline of Mount Mutombo really showed. In game one, Dikembe played 13 minutes, only scoring two points, grabbing three rebounds, but having an impressive three blocks. The Knicks lost game one by 24 points, but this isn’t all Dikembe’s fault with his limited role. In game two Dikembe played 21 minutes and scored five points, had six rebounds, one block and one steal. Another blowout loss for the Knicks, losing by 18 points. In game three, his final game for the Knicks, Dikembe Mutombo played one minute and 38 seconds before leaving the game with a lingering injury. The Knicks got swept in that round, and then Dikembe was off to Houston for the last four years of his career.
Since his retirement Dikembe Mutombo has been inducted into the NBA Hall Of Fame, as well as earning multiple citizenship awards. Dikembe Mutombo on the Knicks was not good, but you can’t say it was bad. Back in the early 2000’s it wasn’t normal for anyone to be playing at the age of 37, especially starting in 50+ games. I would grade his career on the Knicks with a C+, and it was not his worst season by any means, that would have occured in Houston. Dikembe’s time in the big apple was short lived but was a nice memory to the few die hard fans that remember it. Dikembe as a Knicks wasn’t half bad, wasn’t half good either. I hope you all enjoyed reading, Shaney out.