It’s no secret that Dikembe Mutombo serves as an inspiration to all Congolese basketball players, so when the Hall of Famer sat courtside for Tuesday’s game between the Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre, Raps big man Serge Ibaka paid the ultimate respect to his predecessor.
Midway through the second quarter, Len rolled to the basket and took a pass from teammate Devin Booker in the post, but Ibaka denied the Suns center at the rim — the first of three blocks on the evening — and afterwards he unleashed Mutombo’s signature finger wag, much to Dikembe’s delight:
Credit to the cameraman for capturing Ibaka’s finger wag and Mutombo’s reaction in the same shot.
“I care more about who’s the best, who’s the best in the game, who’s the best in the competition. … I did it because I believed I was the best in the game,” Mutombo told USA Today in 2016, when swimmers Michael Phelps and Lilly King finger-wagged their way through the Rio Olympics. “Nobody else could block a shot better than me, no one could dunk on me. …
“Copying my move, it really doesn’t bother me,” Mutombo said with a laugh. “As long as they recognize who they got it from.”
So, the eight-time All-Star was completely cool with Ibaka wagging his finger, maybe because they are the only two players ever to lead the league in blocked shots for three consecutive seasons. Their relationship goes way back. When Ibaka was waiting to hear his name called at the 2008 NBA Draft, Dikembe called to calm his nerves and offer advice. “I will never forget that,” Ibaka wrote in 2013.
Almost a decade later, Ibaka still hasn’t forgotten, and Len paid the price.
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