Feb 1, 2009, 9:00 AM EDT
The Sixers' 2001 finals run was likely made possible by a trade swung by GM Billy King around the trade deadline in the '01 season, where he shipped injured all-star center Theo Ratliff to the Atlanta Hawks for three-time (soon to be four-time) Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo. Dike was a monster in the middle for the Sixers throughout the rest of the season (although, uh, not quite as much as that guy on the Lakers), and his dominance continued into the '01-'02 season. Facing the Bulls on December 1st, 2001, Mutombo reached triple digits in points, rebounds and blocks, to achieve his first-ever triple double as a Sixer.
Never a huge scoring threat, Mutombo scored only 16 points on six of twelve shooting in the game. But he crashed the boards like woah, reaching his point total in defensive rebounds alone (19 in total), and swatted away ten Chicago shots. Maybe the greatest testament to Dikembe's influence on the game was that the Bulls were held to just 76 points in the contest, with opposing center Brad Miller going for a mere 11 points on 4 of 15 shooting. Allen Iverson scored 30 for the Sixers, and the Liberty Ballers won the game by 17, moving to 8-7 for the season.
Mutombo's '01-'02 was the only full season he spent in Philadelphia, as he was traded in the off-season to the Nets for Keith Van Horn and Todd MacCulloch. Now that his career is over after an injury playing for the Rockets in last year's playoffs, an interesting discussion emerges–is Dike a Hall of Famer? Defensive-oriented players often have a hard time making the Hall, with lockdown defenders like Dennis Rodman and Mark Eaton still yet to be inducted, but the Cookie Monster's four Defensive Player of the Year wins, eight All-Star apperances, two rebounding titles and 3289 career blocks (second all-time to only Hakeem Olajuwon) make for a pretty good resume.
Basketball-Reference.com says he's only got a .6% chance of making it, but I gotta believe his odds are better than that. What do you think?
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