NEW YORK – NBA Commissioner David Stern announced today that Dikembe Mutombo will join the NBA in the newly created position of global ambassador. Mutombo will report to Executive Vice President, Social Responsibility & Player Programs, Kathy Behrens.
After retiring from a playing career that spanned 18 seasons, Mutombo will now work to grow and celebrate the game through numerous international NBA events including Basketball without Borders. In addition, he will work closely on NBA Cares outreach efforts with Hall of Famer Bob Lanier who serves as Special Assistant to the Commissioner.
“Dikembe’s extraordinary accomplishments on the court and in the community demonstrate why he is one of sports’ outstanding humanitarians,” said Commissioner Stern. “His commitment to using the values of our game to improve the lives of so many is an example of the special role we have in being leaders in social responsibility. We know the impact programs such as NBA Cares and Basketball without Borders have in being catalysts for change on a global scale, and Dikembe’s continued contributions will be invaluable in our global efforts to bring attention to important social issues.”
Mutombo started the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve living conditions in his native Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997. His commitment to improving the health, education and quality of life for the people in his birthplace, the Democratic Republic of the Congo led to the construction and opening of the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital and Research Center, a $29 million, 300-bed hospital in Kinshasa named after his late mother.
His efforts as a global ambassador for UNICEF, spokesman for international relief agency CARE to further HIV/AIDS awareness, and prevention and his work with the Polio Eradication Campaign to protect African youth from childhood diseases that have virtually disappeared in developed countries yet still threaten children in the Congo everyday have earned him numerous accolades. Mutombo has been the recipient of the President’s Citizenship Award, J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award, and induction into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.
“I am looking forward to working closely with Dikembe as he enters this next phase of his brilliant career. I have seen first hand the impact and inspiration he provides,” said Lanier. “His passion for improving the lives of people in Africa and elsewhere is a great example of how NBA players understand their obligations to the global community.”
Regarded as one of the top post defenders of all time, Mutombo will also play an important role in the mentoring of current players. His on-the-court honors include four NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards through a career that also saw him named to eight All-Star Game appearances, and a place on three All-NBA teams and six All-Defensive teams.
Mutombo holds degrees in linguistics and diplomacy from Georgetown University. He and his wife Rose have six children.