Hall of Fame Rumors
As part of the 2016-17 home-opener festivities, the Denver Nuggets will retire former legend Dikembe Mutombo’s #55 jersey, President and Governor Josh Kroenke announced today. Mutombo was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in September 2015 and will become the fifth player and sixth representative in team history to have his number enshrined in the rafters. He joins fellow Nuggets greats Byron Beck (#40), Alex English (#2), Dan Issel (#44), David Thompson (#33) and Doug Moe, who coached the team to a franchise-record 432 wins. This will mark the first time that the Nuggets have retired a player’s number at Pepsi Center.
Chris Paul admits it — he viewed his trip to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame last week as a bit of a nuisance. After all, he lives in Los Angeles now, and with the final precious days of the offseason ticking down, a cross-country trip here was not atop his to-do list. Yet Paul agreed to come to the Hall last Thursday during induction weekend to receive the Mannie Jackson Human Spirit Award for his work surrounding the Chris Paul Foundation. It wasn’t the first time the Hall had reached out, but it was the first time the nine-time All-Star finally acquiesced. “They ask,” Paul conceded to ESPN.com, “but you think, ‘I’m busy’ or ‘Oh no, it’s too far,’ or ‘I have too much other stuff going on.”’
It prompted a reflective Paul to deliver one of the most memorable and impassioned speeches from an elite player who wasn’t actually being inducted. “Today was my first day having the opportunity to come here, and it was kind of touching,” Paul told the audience upon accepting his award. “If not for this game, I am not here. If not for this game, my family is not in the situation we are in. And so I’m grateful for this game and what it has done for me and my family …” With his voice breaking, and tears welling, Paul pressed on. “It really hit me today being here around all the history that we take so much for granted,” he said. “And I know I do [that] a lot of times.”
After his emotional speech, Paul took a moment to explain why the visit affected him so deeply. “I haven’t never been here before, and as I walked in I actually felt bad about it,” Paul said. “It hit home today, in a big way, what this game has done for me, and the people I love. You walk in and you see all the history and you realize, ‘I need to support this.’ “I’m one of those people who, my wheels get turning. You want other people to see this. You think, ‘Maybe it would be better if this was in New York or L.A.,’ but that doesn’t make sense. The game was invented here. There is where it has to stay.”