HoopsHype Dikembe Mutombo rumors


March 2, 2012 Updates

And even if Dikembe Mutombo, following events from afar, was unaware of Ntaganda's involvement, his nephew Reagan had arrived in Goma ahead of St. Mary, and likely was. "[Reagan] was there in Goma," says Robarts. "He actually preceded the others. I think it's impossible that he did not know about Ntaganda and his role, at least as it emerged." In a second statement sent to The Atlantic, a CAMAC spokesperson writes that "Kase Lawal and CAMAC deny that CAMAC funds were a part of any illegal payment" and that the company disputes any parts of the UN report "that allege a connection between CAMAC and Bosco Ntaganda." The statement adds, "It is important to remember that the Congolese government filed no charges and that neither CAMAC nor Dr. Lawal have made any admission of wrongdoing." The Atlantic

The conflict mineral trade funds, and thus worsens, some of the Congo's worst problems: its corruption, its proliferation of guns and militias, labor exploitation, and some of the weakest governance and poorest security in the world. Yet the conflict mineral trade is a symptom, rather than a cause, of the DRC's ills. Riven by decades of conflict and governed by a predatory and ineffectual state, the DRC is still a country where the government's employment of Ntaganda and other bloodstained ex-insurgents who also work in the conflict mineral business is, ironically, considered a lynchpin of the fragile regional peace., Whether Mutombo and Lawal were aware of it or not, they initiated a deal that has likely enriched the same people who turned the eastern Congo into one of the most violent places on earth. But that's not the most amazing thing about this incident. After all, these sorts of deals go through all the time: the buyers are experienced enough not to get caught and, if they are caught, they're usually not presidential appointees or famous basketball stars. And that's exactly what makes this story so remarkable. Replace the two high-profile Americans with savvier mineral merchants, and it's practically routine. The Atlantic

January 16, 2012 Updates

Less than two weeks later, according to a U.N. report, Mutombo was in New York on a more personal cause — trying to interest a Houston oil executive in a $10 million deal to buy 1,045 pounds of gold from the mines of eastern Congo, the heart of the conflict mineral trade. If Mutombo had reservations about the apparent contradiction between word and deed, he did not show it. He eagerly explained how he and his family had 4 tons of Congolese gold just waiting for a buyer. Because of an internal ban on mining and exports, imposed to try to stop the main revenue source for the mafia-like militias that controlled them, the gold could not be taken to market in usual ways. What Mutombo needed was somebody with money, connections and the ability to put a deal together. Enter Kase Lawal. As chairman of CAMAC, a Houston energy company, Lawal knew Mutombo from the latter’s final days with the Houston Rockets — and he knew how to do business in Africa. Lawal moved to Houston from Nigeria as a young man and built a company that prospered in large measure because of his operations there and in neighboring countries. Houston Chronicle

There were, however, no profits to be had. In truth, the deal was an elaborate scam that ended at an airport in Goma with the seizure of the Gulfstream V jet and the arrest of St. Mary and several CAMAC employees, all suddenly facing accusations of money laundering and attempted smuggling. More than 1,000 pounds of gold pulled from the cargo hold was taken away by Congolese officials. Two bags containing $6.6 million in cash were gone as well, into the pockets of a local general whose loyal troops oversee much of the nearby mining operations. Houston Chronicle

To make matters worse, Lawal had to pay millions more to recover his plane and his people. St. Mary said Lawal later told him the entire ordeal cost him around $30 million. The failed smuggling plot drew global attention. But conspicuously absent from publicity surrounding the incident was any mention of the part played by Mutombo, the finger-wagging basso profondo whose 7-foot stature and defensive prowess made him a force on the hardwoods. Not only had Mutombo initiated the deal, St. Mary said, but he and his family played a key role from the onset, one not revealed until recently with the release of a United Nations report on Congo’s militia activity that recounts the incident. Houston Chronicle

Mutombo would not talk about his involvement. “I have nothing to say,” he replied when reached by phone in Atlanta. But the extent of it became clear through lengthy interviews with St. Mary, who kept records and copies of text messages throughout the ordeal, and the report by U.N. investigators. Through a spokesman, Lawal declined to comment. Houston Chronicle

Dikembe Mutombo represented that the gold belonged to him and “his people,” said St. Mary, whose work as a trader in rough diamonds has taken him to dangerous places with sketchy characters. Asked why the transaction would take place in Kenya, Mutombo said there was “too much shady stuff in Kinshasa” — Congo’s capital — and that Nairobi was closer to his village, St. Mary said. Mutombo was to supply both product and paperwork, and Lawal was to provide funds for the purchase and to cover expenses. St. Mary was to evaluate the gold and find buyers. “He had an answer for everything,” St. Mary said of Mutombo as they went through the details of the proposed deal. Whose gold was it? Houston Chronicle

November 19, 2011 Updates

The venue for the game has not been finalized, but a number of former and current NBA players already have committed to participate. They include: Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Ray Allen and Chris Bosh. Sources also said Baron Davis, Vince Carter, Alonzo Mourning. Jamal Crawford, Rudy Gay, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Amare Stoudemire, Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, Derek Fisher, Antawn Jamison, Juwan Howard, Quentin Richardson, Dahntay Jones, Brandon Knight, Jerry Stackhouse, John Wall, Dikembe Mutombo, Patrick Ewing and Doc Rivers are expected to play. Veteran WNBA star and all-time leading scorer Tina Thompson and former USC great Cheryl Miller also is expected to participate. ESPN.com

September 3, 2011 Updates

Patrick Ewing can't believe how much South Africa has changed in the 17 years since he last visited the country. On Friday afternoon, the Orlando Magic assistant coach sat in the back of a bus with Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo as they traveled from the township of Orange Farm into Johannesburg. As Ewing glanced out a window, he described what he was seeing. "The last time we were here, apartheid had just ended," Ewing said by cell phone. "There's been so many new structures put up. The country's definitely grown. . . . Especially in the big cities, there's big buildings and the hustle-and-bustle of people. There's traffic, cars, markets and shops." Orlando Sentinel

September 2, 2011 Updates

Jeff Hornacek, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo once were fierce rivals on the basketball court. They recorded a combined 64 seasons in the NBA, totaling 66,514 points and earning 27 All-Star appearances, wearing a variety of uniforms but never playing on the same team. With their competitive days behind them, though, the talented foursome have united to become ambassadors for the game that helped make their names. Joined by ex- professional players Bo Outlaw and Dee Brown, the former NBA greats are scheduled to spend four days in Johannesburg, South Africa, participating in the league’s Basketball Without Borders program. Salt Lake Tribune

July 19, 2011 Updates

N’Diaye said he wants to model his philanthropy on that of former NBA all-star Dikembe Mutombo, who has become one of Africa’s foremost humanitarians. Of course that depends on the funds at his disposal. With the NBA lockout, his future is uncertain. But one way or another, he is committed to helping out his homeland. My Central Jersey

July 15, 2011 Updates

Donations through the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation have been steady, with the money going directly toward maintaining the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in the DRC capital of Kinshasa. “The hospital is doing very well,” Mutombo said. “People are responding. That’s the only way we’ve been able to buy medicine and treat people. We’ve treated 85,000 people at our hospital. People are opening their heart despite the financial crisis.” NBA.com

July 2, 2011 Updates

While in Athens, Mutombo is taking part in Special Olympics' Unity Sports program, a series of exhibition events that join people with and without intellectual disabilities to compete alongside one another on the field of play. "I'm going to play in a basketball match," Mutombo says with a smile. "I'm not going to score. I'm just going to try to play defense. I'm just going to try to block a few shots. I'm really looking forward to it, it's going to be a great match." ESPN.com

Mutombo believes that sports is a powerful vehicle in achieving social change and he has devoted much of his time since leaving basketball three years ago to fostering greater sports opportunities for all people around the world. "Sports unites us," he says. "Even in the most troubled parts of the world, sport brings people together. We see what sport is doing today in Africa, in places where we've witnessed so many years of civil war, like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Republic of Congo, where I come from. Sport has amazing power." ESPN.com

March 16, 2011 Updates
November 1, 2010 Updates

And so began Mutombo's improbable passage from aspiring African doctor to eight-time NBA All-Star, a man who was named the league's defensive player of the year four times and blocked more shots in his 18-year career (3,289) than any player in league annals outside of Hakeem Olajuwon. But it wasn't Mutombo's shot-blocking - or his trademark finger-wagging or elbow-wielding - that brought him to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) auditorium; it was his life-saving, and the commitment he has made to improve medical care in the country of his birth, the proof residing in the $29 million hospital that Mutombo built in one of the poorest sections of Kinshasa. New York Daily News

Mutombo is a tireless fund-raiser for the project, and in a voice that is raspier than a hoarse Bob Dylan, he'll remind most everyone he meets that even a $20 contribution can make a significant difference in such a poor country. The biggest source of funding, though, has been Mutombo himself; he has donated some $23 million - a fact that is a staggering testament to the man, according to Patrick Ewing, who preceded Mutombo at Georgetown and helped teach Mutombo the game over hours and hours of summer practice in Georgetown's McDonough Gymnasium. "It's a miracle, what he's doing with the hospital," says Ewing, now an assistant coach for Stan Van Gundy and the Orlando Magic. "Not many people would do what he's done - sacrifice so much to help others." Risa Lavizzo-Mourey is president and CEO of RWJF. "Dikembe takes this very seriously," Lavizzo-Mourey says. "He's fully invested not only his money, but his intellect and the tremendous force of his personality." New York Daily News

October 28, 2010 Updates

In town to support a friend, former Denver Nuggets center Dikembe Mutombo couldn't resist doling out a little friendly advice to Carmelo Anthony. Careful what you wish for. "You think the grass is going to be greener on the other side, because you think it's not raining here right now," said Mutombo, who was in Denver on Wednesday to support friend and newly hired Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri as the team opened the season against the Utah Jazz. "But by the time you walk to the other side, it might not be green. You might be going to the same dry season you experienced in the other part." ESPN.com

He's hoping that's not what they're uttering one day about Anthony. "This is his team. He's the main guy here," Mutombo said. "If I was him, if I had a chance to talk to him, he should look at it and consider this is his team. He should make the right decision to stay here." Denver nearly traded Anthony to the New Jersey Nets a month ago, only to have the deal fell apart. The Knicks reportedly are another team interested in acquiring the All-Star forward. But Anthony began the season in a Nuggets uniform. "When you talk about the Nuggets, you talk about Carmelo Anthony as being the face of the franchise," Mutombo said. "I don't think that the organization is ready to lose someone like him. "I don't think he is really ready to give up his kingdom and move to somebody else's kingdom." ESPN.com

Dikembe Mutombo obviously is paying no attention to the website Basketball-Reference.com, which has a Hall of Fame probability section and lists his chances to be inducted at a meager 3.28 percent. For Mutombo, it's a no brainer. He expects to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame after becoming eligible in 2015. "Are you kidding, man?'' Mutombo said in an interview Wednesday with FanHouse about whether he believes he will be inducted. "I believed when I played that one day I would see my name being called in Springfield, Mass. ... I think so (that he will get in).'' FanHouse.com

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