Four lucky Singapore Slingers were treated to a meet and greet session with NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo on Wednesday.
Desmond, Leon, Chase and Han Bin posing with NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo. Photo: Teck Chye/ Sport Singapore
Amid talks to bring Jr NBA to Singapore, Mutombo, who was in Singapore for the first time, shared with the Slingers some of his stories, visions and ideals in a half-hour session.
Slinger Leon Kwek found meeting the big man a particular inspiration after hearing about his rags to riches tale.
“From someone that was not widely exposed to basketball, especially in his country in Africa, to now being someone that is a Hall-of-Famer, four time defensive player of the year, and now an NBA Global Ambassador,” Kwek said about the 2.18m center.
Dikembe Mutombo does his trademark finger wag during a meet and greet session at Sport Singapore. Photo: Sport Singapore
“It just shows how much will, hard work and discipline was put into himself, moulding into his career right now. I think it’s an inspiration to someone in the sense that you can do anything if you put your heart into it.”
Even before he retired from basketball in 2009, the Congolese native was already well-known for his humanitarian work in Africa.
The eight-time NBA All Star started the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in 1997 to improve living conditions in his native country and set up a 300-bed hospital on the outskirts of his hometown near the Congolese capital of Kinshasa.
Dikembe Mutombo (right) sharing during the session at Sport Singapore. Photo: Sport Singapore
Along with his foundation, he personally donated US$15 million to fund the completion of the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, which was named after his late mother.
For Slinger Ng Han Bin, it was these humanitarian efforts that were inspiring as the idea of giving back to the community was central to his creed as a sportsman.
“It is a beauty when successful NBA players like him want to give back to the community when throughout their careers they have probably earned enough, and just retire and enjoy their own life,” Ng said.
“But what he is doing is really important to the community out there because it will inspire everyone and give direction to people who actually need them.”