Before Game 2 of the Rockets-Blazers game is long forgotten, I decided to watch a little bit of my recording of it again, namely the part where Dikembe Mutombo got injured, and more importantly, the respect his teammates paid coming over to where he was injured as he put on the stretcher. It was sad to watch it again, but I felt it was necessary to soak in that moment one last time before moving on with the series. I went to Nolan Ryan‘s last game (which was also George Brett‘s), and I remember it like it was yesterday. I think it’ll be the same for Deke because you don’t come across legends that often where an entire team will show respect like that right in the middle of a game.
I was lucky to have witnessed his banter in the locker room the media and players talk about. I also had the opportunity to meet him a couple of times. The first time was in 2006 during training camp in Austin outside the team’s hotel (I lived right around the block). It was right after practice, and he was outside the front of the Four Seasons with big ice bags strapped to his knees. I talked to him about that, and he said he did that after every practice and game as a precautionary measure to keep the swelling down. Those knees and that precaution took him a long way in the NBA — 18 years.
The other time I met him was during the NBA All-Star break when I ran into him in New Orleans outside Cafe du Monde with his family. I said hello and told him I had just seen former LSU coach Dale Brown, at which time Deke rushed over and talked to him like he was an old friend.
You can check out the story at the bottom of this post.
Now I understand Dikembe has delayed his knee surgery until Monday so that he can be in attendance for both tonight’s game as well as Sunday night’s. What a class act (contrary to McGrady, who is still in MIA from the bench). Thanks for the memories, Deke. Hopefully your teammates will go out there and win a ring for you this season.