By John Hareas, NBA.com
Posted Dec 15 2008 2:35PM
Dikembe Mutombo is not retired. The four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and 17-year NBA veteran will be making a decision on his basketball future within the next two weeks.
He's hoping people reading this article will make a decision today. A decision to save lives.
"By text-messaging 'Congo' to 90999 on your cell phone, you can raise awareness for $5," Mutombo said. "We are trying to receive international support for the people of the Congo who are suffering daily from deadly diseases such as HIV, AIDS and Malaria. More than five million people have died and that number is growing. Last year, more than 1.4 million children have died from Malaria alone."
According to Mutombo, 50 to 60 percent of the patients at the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in the Congo, named after his late mother, are dying from Malaria.
|NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo talks about his work to help bring needed medical care to the children of the Congo.
"With this mobile campaign, we are trying to reach 400,000 people nationwide who will hopefully text Congo," Mutombo said. "The goal is to raise $2 million this year. This money will go directly to those who are battling to stay alive."
The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation partnered with Mobile Accord, Denver-based company on this global mobile initiative, which officially launched today.
The man who has finger wagged his way to 3,287 blocks in his NBA career has been tireless in his efforts on behalf of his foundation in seeking funds and awareness, criss-crossing the country, meeting with potential donors and medical companies with one mission in mind.
"It's about saving lives," Mutombo said.
Another mission for Mutombo is to determine his next NBA home. The eight-time NBA All-Star has been working out, a three-plus hour daily regiment, featuring weight lifting, spin and yoga classes.
"Basketball is a mindset," Mutombo said. "And my mind is set to play the rest of this season before I retire this summer. "I will make a decision after I celebrate Christmas with my wife and kids."
Seven teams are interested and among those Mutombo is looking at include Boston, Miami and San Antonio. Asked about the chances of returning to Houston, Mutombo replied: "I don't know. I would certainly be open to it. I have a house there and a lot of friends in the city but it's still up in the air to see who will offer me a contract."
While this is the first time Mutombo has not played organized basketball in more than 20 years, the time off has served him and his foundation well.
"Every day, I always have something to do," said Mutombo. "With the time off, I've been able to accomplish a lot not only with the foundation but the hospital as well. I've been meeting with various medical companies around the world seeking partnerships to assist with the hospital."
Someone who has been instrumental in his foundation about the plight in Africa is Bono, lead singer of the uber rock group, U2.
"Bono is a personal friend of mine and he has done a lot in creating the awareness of the pain and suffering of the people of Africa," said Mutombo.
"He and I continue to work today to see how can we bring a change to Africa. All the people of Africa need hope, need to know that there is somebody out there who are thinking of them, worrying about them and who are willing to come and help them just a little bit."
Asked whether he has ever invited Bono to an NBA game, Mutombo laughed. "He always invites me to a concert when he's in America. I've gone to several shows. I never got a chance to invite him to a game. Maybe I should think about it next time."
It looks like he will have an opportunity in a matter of weeks.
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