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Bob's Corner: Dark times for Dikembe

BOB'S CORNER: The NBA season tipped off this week but there is always plenty happening in US basketball anyway, as BOB CRAVEN, our man with the Stateside scoops, reports in a series of significant snippets, none moreso than the latest news of the state of Dikembe Mutombo's ill-health. 

HALL Of Famer Dikembe Mutombo is being treated for a not-insignificant brain tumor.

He's been one of the NBA's global ambassadors for years, having spent 18 years in the league. He was an eight-time All-Star and a four-time Defensive Player of the Year. 

Born in the Congo in a family of 10 kids, he went to college at Georgetown in Washington, DC on a US AID scholarship with the intention of becoming a doctor.

Famous Georgetown basketball coach, John Thompson, who earlier had been Bill Russell's backup at centre for the Boston Celtics, took one look at his 218cm height and convinced him he should play basketball. 

When he started at Georgetown, he spoke no English at all and started his studies with classes in ESL (English as a Second Language).

In the NBA, he retired as the second most prolific shot blocker ever, and he averaged a double-double for the majority of his career. 

My most indelible memory of him was of him flat out on his back on the floor here in Seattle at the end of Game 7 of the first round of the '93-94 playoffs, clutching the basketball with both arms in total joy. 

His Denver Nuggets had qualified as the #8 seed in the Western Conference and were to play the SuperSonics, who had qualified #1. 

He helped lead Denver to the first ever #8 seed to defeat a #1 seed, winning that series four games to three.  Denver was then defeated in the next round by the Jazz, also in seven games.

Prominent past NBL players and championship winners at Adelaide 36ers, Darnell Mee and Kevin Brooks were part of that Nuggets team.

THE Milwaukee Bucks, NBA champions two years ago, start this season notably short-handed.

Guard Pat Connaughton will miss the first three weeks of the season with a strained right calf. 

The Bucks are also expected to open the season without three-time All-Star forward, Khris Middleton, who is recovering from wrist surgery, and veteran free-agent signee, Joe Ingles, who is still recovering from knee surgery.

THE first official poll is out for the NCAA men's Division I season. 

The University of North Carolina, which lost in last year's title game, was the runaway favourite for the top spot in the rankings. 

The Tar Heels were followed in order by Gonzaga, Houston, and Kentucky. 

Kansas and Baylor tied for the #5 spot and were followed by Duke and UCLA.

BEN Simmons' box score last Saturday was certainly odd. The Brooklyn Net went for 13 minutes, two points, two boards, six assists, and fouled out.

Hmm. Oh well, the NBA's '22-'23 season is off and running.

Oct 22

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