In this new series from Hoop Diary we will be scouring the history books to determine the greatest NBA player to wear each jersey number. With a lockout pending, what better way to get your NBA fix than to take a trip down memory lane and share your thoughts with us on the Jersey Countdown, brought to you by the good folks at Hoop Diary! You may be surprised by some of the results along the way, so feel free to share your thoughts via our comments section.
Let’s begin the countdown with the number 55!
This seven-foot tall animated African brought more energy to the NBA over the course of his career than the 2011 Miami Heat player introductions. With a keen eye for a block, Dikembe Mutombo ruled the NBA paint playing with the Nuggets, Hawks, Sixers, Nets, Knicks and Rockets respectively.
Over the course of his 15 year career Mount Mutombo averaged 9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. He was selected to eight NBA All-Star teams and won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award four times. On the NBA’s list of all-time block leaders Mutombo currently resides in second place with 3,289 which is a healthy 908 from the nearest active player.
There are two things Mutombo will be most remembered for other than his amazing defense. The first is the image of him falling to the floor and clutching the ball after guiding his eighth-ranked Denver Nuggets to an upset win over the number one seed Seattle Sonics in the 1994 NBA Playoffs. The second is his patented finger-wave after every block, which the League kindly turned into a technical foul offense for taunting. Thanks Mr Stern.
A native of Congo, Mutombo has done amazing things for his homeland outside of Basketball both during and after his career. Through a number of charitable avenues Dikembe has given back to many communities. The most notable of these activities was the $15m contribution towards the construction of a hospital to accommodate his people.
Truly a class act, Dikembe Mutombo will no doubt go to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and aptly takes the title of Hoop Diary’s all-time greatest #55.
Notable mentions: Dolph Schayes, Jayson “Shotgun” Williams, Jason “White Chocolate” Williams and Antoine Carr.