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Dikembe Mutombo admits he’s not sure if he would thrive in modern NBA

Dikembe Mutombo, NBA

As time goes by, sports change. The NBA is not an exception to that rule.

The NBA today is fast-paced and 3-point-heavy. On the other hand, 10, 20, 30 years ago, the NBA was categorized by hard fouls, defense and the importance of traditional, low-post big men.

One of the best big men of that era, Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo told NBA writer Howard Beck in an interview that he’s not sure if he would be able to thrive in today’s league.

“I don’t know if I would’ve been fit properly in this system today,” Mutombo said. … “When I played with the Hawks, it was about getting the ball to Steve Smith, when I to Philly it was about getting the ball to Allen Iverson. Everybody had a different role but I think it has changed today.”


Dikembe Mutombo enjoyed a successful NBA career from 1991-2009, averaging 9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks. The 7-foot-2 center was a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1995, 1997, 1998, 2001) and averaged three or more blocks per game in eight separate seasons.

While there are still low-post defensive centers in today’s NBA, the league is more perimeter-centered than ever and even many power forwards and centers shoot threes at a high rate.

In his 19-year career, Mutombo didn’t attempt a single 3-pointer and did the majority of his work at and around the basket.

Big men like Kristaps Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns have proven that you can be a star in today’s NBA as a shooting big man while also retaining the back to the basket skills of past eras