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Q&A: Dikembe Mutombo on the Legacy of His Finger Wag, This NBA Season and More

In The News Q&A: Dikembe Mutombo on the Legacy of His Finger Wag, This NBA Season and More

Dikembe Mutombo had a Hall of Fame basketball career, and he has continued to flourish following his retirement from the NBA.

Mutombo runs the philanthropic Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, which is centered around providing health care to people living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, his home country. He also recently released Mutombo Coffee, seeking to provide new opportunities to women farmers in Africa.

In addition to his service to the world, Mutombo remains a fixture on GEICO’s TV commercials, rejecting shots and showing off his signature finger wag. The trademark gesture, which was also on display in his Coming 2 America cameo—has become so intertwined with his identity that there are times he needs to remind people it is a callback to his time on the basketball court, where he blocked 3,289 shots, second all-time in NBA history.

Mutombo spoke with Sports Illustrated, discussing the NBA’s best active post players and his appearance in the new Eddie Murphy film, as well as sharing his insight on the GOAT debate between LeBron James and Michael Jordan.

Sports Illustrated: Did you ever envision the finger wag becoming so intertwined with your playing career?

Dikembe Mutombo: Isn’t it crazy? Many people don’t even how many blocked shots I had in my career, but they know my GEICO commercial. Everywhere I go now, I hear, “No, no, no!” And I say, “No, my name is Mutombo!”

I never thought what I was doing on the basketball court would become a signature part of my life. To me, it was fun to do it, even though I was fined so many times for it. People forget that. I lost a lot of money on that finger wag; I got so many technical fouls. I had so many conversations with the commissioner about it, but it all worked out.

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