Print RSS

Grizzlies to honor Bernard King, Dikembe Mutombo and JoJo White

As part of the 12th Annual MLK, Jr. Celebration Day on January 20.

MEMPHIS, January 14, 2014 — The Memphis Grizzlies will be hosting their 12th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Day on Monday, Jan. 20 when they play the New Orleans Pelicans at 4 p.m. This year, NBA Hall of Famer Bernard King and former NBA star JoJo White will be honored for their contributions to civil and human rights, while Dikembe Mutombo, a past honoree who could not attend previously, will also participate in the MLK, Jr. Celebration Day events. The day is presented by the Memphis Grizzlies, the National Civil Rights Museum, the City of Memphis and Shelby County.

King and White will be the recipients of the Ninth Annual National Civil Rights Sports Legacy Awards, presented by FedEx. The award pays tribute to athletes who have made significant contributions to civil and human rights and who have laid the foundation for future leaders through their careers in sports in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mutombo, along with NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson, received the Second Annual National Civil Rights Sports Legacy Award in 2007.

The Martin Luther King Celebration Day will begin this year with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day High School Classic, presented by C-Spire, between Whitehaven High School and Ensworth High School from Nashville on the main court of FedExForum. The game will tip-off at 11:55 a.m., with doors opening at 11:30 a.m.  Admission to the game is free with the purchase of a Grizzlies vs. Pelicans game ticket for that afternoon.

The day will continue with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Sports Legacy Symposium, presented by the Hyde Family Foundation. The symposium, emceed by Grizzlies television play-by-play analyst Pete Pranica, will feature King, Mutombo and White, who will share their stories and experiences spanning six different decades about their contributions to civil and human rights in the spirit of Dr. King, and will be broadcast live on SportSouth. 

The free symposium will be held in the Coventry Health Care Practice Facility at FedExForum from 2:30-3:30 p.m., with doors set to open at 2:00 p.m.  While admission is free with the purchase of a Grizzlies game ticket against the Pelicans that afternoon, space is limited.  Season Ticket Holders interested in attending must pre-register by calling their Account Executive at (901) 888-HOOP or sending an e-mail Tickets will be available to the General Public through the FedExForum Box Office beginning at 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 13.

Following the symposium, the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award Ceremony, presented by FedEx, for King, Mutombo and White will be directly before tip-off at 3:55 p.m.

After the ceremony, the Grizzlies and Pelicans will tip-off at 4 p.m. in a game televised nationally on NBA TV and locally by SportSouth, and presented by FedEx, along with associate sponsors SunTrust, C-Spire and McDonald’s. Read the game preview.The halftime ceremony, presented by MLGW, will feature a special Martin Luther King, Jr. video tribute and recognition of the honorees as well as a performance by country music legend Charley Pride. Over the past thirty years, Pride has remained one of the Top 20 best-selling country artists of all-time. His incredible legacy includes 36 #1 singles, over 70 million albums sold, 31 gold and 4 platinum albums—including one quadruple platinum. On RCA Records, Pride is second in sales only to Elvis Presley.

Families looking to attend the game can purchase the Pepsi Family Plan of four tickets, four hot dogs and four Pepsi fountain drinks beginning at just $58 by calling 888-HOOP or visiting

One of the most explosive scorers in his era, King poured in more than 19,000 points during his 14-year career despite suffering a serious knee injury during his prime that caused him to miss all of the 1985-86 season as well as all but six games of the 1986-87 season. Over his 14-year career, King was a four-time NBA All-Star as well as a two-time All-NBA first team member during his career. King also won the NBA scoring title in the 1984-85 season by averaging 32.9 points per game for the New York Knicks.

Before entering the NBA, King was a three-time SEC Player of the Year at the University of Tennessee as well as a three-time first-team All-American. The University retired King’s jersey in 2007, making him the first men’s basketball player to have his jersey retired by the school.  While at Tennessee, King battled rampant racism off the court, including an incident where a police officer allegedly hit him in the head with the butt of his gun while responding to a loitering report.

JoJo White played for 12 seasons in the NBA, including a 10-year stint with the Boston Celtics in which he was a large part of two NBA Championship teams, and was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 1976. White was named to the NBA All-Star team in seven consecutive seasons from 1971-1977. After leaving Boston, he played one season each with the Golden State Warriors and Kansas City Kings before retiring in 1981 with over 14,000 points scored and 4,095 assists dished out.

White played his college basketball at the University of Kansas, where he was a two-time All-American selection during his time in Lawrence. He is best known for playing against Texas Western in the 1966 NCAA Tournament. White scored 19-points in the game, but his final shot that would have won the game for Kansas was waived off as his foot was on the out of bounds line. Texas Western went on to start an all African American starting five in the National Championship game against Kentucky, a game in which Texas Western was victorious.

A member of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, White is now the Director of Special Projects and Community Relations with the Boston Celtics, and also is a motivational speaker to civic groups, corporations, colleges, commencement exercises and youth organizations. In addition, White makes many appearances throughout the year to give recognition to both the young and old for various achievements. JoJo is also involved with many Boston Celtics community programs such as the Stay In School and Read to Achieve programs, which provide recognition and incentives for youth to heavily consider furthering their education.

One of the greatest post defenders in the history of the NBA, Dikembe Mutombo sustained an 18-year NBA career before retiring in 2009. Over those 18 years, Mutombo was an eight-time All-Star as well as a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year winner and a three-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member. He is second all-time in career blocks with 3,289, behind only Hakeem Olajuwon, and led the league in blocks in five different seasons. He also ranks 19th all-time in career rebounds, and led the NBA four times in total rebounds. 

A well-known humanitarian, Mutombo started the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve living conditions in his native Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997. His efforts earned him the NBA's humanitarian award in 2001. For his feats, The Sporting News named him as one of the "Good Guys in Sports" in 1999 and 2000, and in 1999, he was elected as one of 20 winners of the President's Service Awards, the nation's highest honor for volunteer service.

Mutombo paid for uniforms and expenses for the Zaire women's basketball team during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. In honor of his humanitarianism, Mutombo was invited to President George W. Bush's 2007 State of the Union Address and was referred to as a "son of the Congo" by the President in his speech. In 1997, with the Mutombo Foundation, Dikembe began plans to open a $29 million, 300-bed hospital on the outskirts of his hometown, the Congolese capital of Kinshasa. On August 14, 2006, Dikembe donated $15 million to the completion of the hospital for its ceremonial opening on September 2, 2006. The hospital was by then named Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, named for his late mother, who died of a stroke in 1997. When it opened in February 2007, the $29 million facility became the first modern medical facility to be built in that area in nearly 40 years. 

As of November 2009, Mutombo became Global Ambassador of the NBA.  Mutombo now works to grow and celebrate the game through numerous international NBA events including Basketball without Borders. In addition, he works closely on NBA Cares outreach efforts.

Fans who want to support the Memphis Grizzlies and purchase 2013-14 Season Tickets can do so by calling (901) 888-HOOP or Purchase tickets online.  Season Tickets start at $11 per game. For more information on the Grizzlies, please visit, ‘like’ Memphis Grizzlies on Facebook or follow on Twitter (@memgrizz).