The last time the Philadelphia 76ers went to the NBA Finals they had a dominant big man in the middle. In 2001, the Sixers played the Los Angeles Lakers for the league championship. The center was Dikembe Mutombo at the time. Mutombo, a 7-foot-2, 245-pounder, averaged 10.0 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks a game that season.
He was also the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Mutombo was a force in the middle. He wasn’t a big time scorer, but a great shotblocker and rebounder. Well, the Sixers acquired all-star center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers in a four team blockbuster trade this summer and Mutombo feels Bynum should be able to do great things for the Sixers.
“I’m so happy with the trade,” said Mutombo, who was recently in town to participate in the Liberty Medal presentation to boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the National Constitution Center. “Bynum is a young man with full talent ahead of him. He’s a great offensive rebounder and shotblocker. I think his offensive skills are much higher than me when I was at his age.
“I think he has a great future. I just pray that he has a healthy season and that he can give the Philly fans something they’ve looking for. They’re looking for another big man who can block shots. I think they got him. He’s a big steal for them.”
Bynum, a 7-foot, 285-pounder, was originally picked by the Lakers with the 10th pick overall in the 2005 NBA draft. He played his scholastic basketball at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, N.J. The 24 year-old standout averaged career highs of 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a game. He was rated 20th in the NBA in scoring, third in rebounding, sixth in blocks (1.93) and fourth in field goal percentage. He joins Dwight Howard who now plays for the Lakers as the only players who tallied at 10 points, 10 rebounds and 1.50 blocks last season.
“I had a chance to spend a couple weeks with Adam Aron [Sixers CEO and co-owner],” Mutombo said. “I told him this is going to be big for them.”