Turner and the NBA today announced that Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo will be the recipient of this year’s Sager Strong Award at the NBA Awards on TNT, presented by Kia, to be held Monday, June 25, with coverage beginning at 9 p.m. ET. The Sager Strong Award, named for iconic Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager, is presented annually to an individual who has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace. The award is bestowed upon the recipient in the form of a colorful suit jacket, a replica of the one worn by Sager during his unforgettable “Time is simply how you live your life” speech in 2016.
One of basketball’s most respected defensive players and rebounders, Mutombo is also well regarded beyond the game for his humanitarian work around the world. Two decades ago he created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, dedicated to improving the health, education and quality of life for the people of his native Democratic Republic of the Congo. Among the many achievements for DMF, the organization opened the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in 2007, and since, the facility has treated nearly a quarter million patients.
In 2009, Mutombo was named a global ambassador for the NBA by NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern.
The basketball Hall of Famer originally came to the United States in 1987 on an academic scholarship to Georgetown. Later, the school’s legendary coach John Thompson invited him to try out for the basketball team. Eventually, he would be a first round NBA Draft pick in 1991, and go on to play 19 years in the NBA before retiring in 2009.
The 2018 NBA Awards on TNT – presented live from historic Barker Hangar in Los Angeles – will honor all of the league’s top performers from the 2017-18 NBA season, including the exclusive unveiling of the Kia NBA MVP, Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Kia NBA Rookie of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award, among others.
The second annual NBA Awards on TNT will once again feature current and former NBA players, coaches, musical performances and celebrity presenters throughout the evening. Additionally, the Sports Emmy Award-winning Inside the NBA studio team of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal will be integrated throughout the show. Additional details will be announced at a later date.
Last year’s first-ever Sager Strong recipient was Monty Williams, who has spent more than two decades as a player, coach and executive with the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans (as head coach), Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. His legacy throughout the basketball community extends beyond the court, as someone who has repeatedly faced adversity while remaining a beacon of compassion, loyalty, faith and family.