Dikembe Mutombo, who played for both the Nets and Knicks during his career, is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor, the NBA announced Saturday on behalf of the Hall of Fame center and his family.
“NBA Global Ambassador and Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo is currently undergoing treatment for a brain tumor,” the league said in a statement. “He is receiving the best care possible from a collaborative team of specialists in Atlanta and is in great spirits as he begins treatment.
“Dikembe and his family ask for privacy during this time so they can focus on his care. They are grateful for your prayers and good wishes.”
The 56-year-old Mutombo — who was known for his philanthropy and his playful finger wag after blocked shots — is second in league history in blocks, played for six teams and made eight All-Star teams. In the offseason following his last All-Star selection, with the 76ers in 2002, he was traded to the Nets for Keith Van Horn and Todd MacCulloch.
Injuries limited him to just 24 games (16 starts) for the Nets, but Mutombo served as the sixth man, playing every game in the NBA Finals loss to the Spurs.
After the Nets bought him out the following offseason, Mutombo crossed the Hudson River and signed a two-year deal with the rival Knicks. He played 65 games that season, including a dominant 10-block performance against the Nets.
Mutombo, who was drafted fourth overall in 1991 by the Nuggets, played 18 seasons, for Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Houston, as well as the Nets and Knicks. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015, and has worked for charitable and humanitarian causes. The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation spearheaded the building of a 170-bed hospital in Kinshasa, the Congo’s capital city. The facility has cared for almost half a million people, regardless of their ability to pay for treatment.
Ben Simmons fouled out after just 13 minutes on Friday in Minneapolis.
“I said, ‘You might as well go straight to the bike and get some conditioning.’ I don’t think he was ready for the joke,” coach Steve Nash said.
Simmons — who finished with two points, six assists and two boards — fouled out with 10:26 left in the third quarter, the quickest disqualification of his career. He had a long on-court chat with ref Nick Buchert during the first half, and was in disbelief while leaving the court just moments into the third.
“Obviously, I probably wouldn’t be laughing if it was the regular season. But it’s the preseason,” said Simmons, who noted the Wednesday game against the bruising Bucks was far more physical than Friday against the uber-tall Timberwolves.
“I was talking with the refs, obviously adjusting. You play one night against the Bucks and playing a physical game then you’re playing [Minnesota] and it’s not that physical, so you’re not able to get away with a lot of things.”
The Nets waived Chris Chiozza and RaiQuan Gray. That brings the roster down to the maximum of 17 — 15 standard deals and a pair of two-ways.
Barring any surprises before Opening Night on Wednesday, that means Markieff Morris will get $500,000 guaranteed and Edmond Sumner will get $250,000. Yuta Watanabe will be on the final roster with a veteran minimum contract.