The Old Guys Might Not Be Ready To Stop

LOS ANGELES - The last time I spoke with Houston Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo in January, he was done. Finished. Ready to call it a career.

Back then, he was a role player whose primary role was to clap his hands and root on his teammates from the bench. He only saw action when the result was already determined, in blowout losses and wins. He went days, sometimes weeks without seeing the floor.

Mutombo, the league's oldest player, was resigned to quietly going out as the second-best shot-blocker of all-time and he talked about how special it was to make his last appearance in Washington.

"Where the legend was born," the former Georgetown star said.


How do you expect me to walk away now? (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

That was more than a month before Yao Ming broke his left foot, was lost for the season and Mutombo was thrust into the role as a starter; before he re-popularized the finger wag and showed the rest of the league that he still has something to offer at age 41 - since that's what the media guide says.

Mutombo hasn't been a dominant defensive force, but he has been a presence, especially in the past four games, in which he averaged 8.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots - a considerable increase over his season averages of 2.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks.

After he had eight points and seven rebounds in just 16 minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers, I asked Mutombo if he really was going to leave the game when this season ends. Mutombo shook his head and chuckled. His career might not be over after 17 seasons, four defensive player of the year awards, more than 12,000 rebounds and 3,000 blocked shots.

"It's crazy," Mutombo said. "The owner [Les Alexander is] chasing me everyday, man. I'm going crazy in the back of my mind, man. When you have the GM [Dary Morey], the owner, the team president, your teammates, coaches. Walking away is tough, man. So, I'm just sitting down letting [agent] David [Falk] handle some of the issues, then me and my wife can talk and try and figure it out. I know she want me home at some time."

I caught with another player with D.C. ties over weekend - Juwan Howard. Remember him? The reason Dominic McGuire might want to re-think his jersey number (No. 5) considering how Howard and the incomparable Kwame Brown departed this town.

You may have forgotten about Juwan because he hardly ever plays for the Dallas Mavericks, averaging career lows in minutes (7.0), points (1.1) and rebounds (1.6) in his 14th season in the league. That is a precipitous drop from his production last season in Houston (9.7 points, 5.9 rebounds) and probably not what he expected after accepting a buyout from Minnesota to join a championship contender.


From here on Nene, you all must refer to me as The Fab One (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

But he's still around; the last remaining member of the Fab Five still in the league after Jalen Rose started providing commentary for ESPN this season and Chris Webber was forced to retire last month because of a sore knee. I asked Juwan if it felt weird that he's the last man standing from the group that changed college basketball forever. "No it's not," Howard said. "I'm just going to try to continue to keep that name out there."

How much longer? The 35-year-old Howard said he doesn't have any plans to retire after this season - although that decision may very well be made by the league this summer. "I see myself playing at least another two years - God willing," said Howard, who has career averages of 15.4 points and 6.9 rebounds. "If He can continue to bless me with good health. After I'm done."

But Howard doesn't want to be too far from the game whenever he has to put aside his kicks. "When I do leave the game on the court, I would like to be a part of the game in some capacity. I want to stay as close to the game as possible because I love the teaching aspect, as well as management," Howard said. "My goal of course is to be a part of an organization that wants to build a winning, championship-caliber atmosphere. I want to help put that together. That's my goal."

An interesting side note about the Mavericks. They might have the most former all-stars on one team in recent memory. I have done a full search yet, so feel free to fact check. But check it out - Dallas has seven current and former all-stars on its roster. Yes, seven.

You probably guessed Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd. Those were easy choices. Josh Howard was probably easy, too, since he was on the all-star team last season. But the Mavericks also have Juwan Howard, Jerry Stackhouse, Eddie Jones, and. . .Jamaal Magloire. That gets you the seventh seed in the West, huh?

By Michael Lee |  April 7, 2008; 8:39 AM ET
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Comments

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If Juwan wants to be in the front office, I hope he's learned not to give a max contract to himself.

Posted by: Lindemann | April 7, 2008 8:58 AM

Brendan Haywood is a freaking idot. That supid @$$ can hardly even foem a complete sentence. Basketball is just somethng for talentless thugs to do in between their prison stints! I hope this team misses the playoffs every year and is forced to fold!! By the way Haywood..you suck and no one outside of 2 blocks of the phone booth has ever eve heard of you. Why don't you go back to scrubbing toilets at Burger King you big, ugly, stupid looking MORON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Basketball sux! | April 7, 2008 2:20 PM

What the @#$%^& is an antawn? Jerk can't even spell his own name.

Posted by: It's Antwan!! | April 7, 2008 2:30 PM

wizards eat crap!

Posted by: wizards eat crap! | April 7, 2008 2:35 PM

Brendan Haywood is a freaking idot. That supid @$$ can hardly even foem a complete sentence.
Posted by: Basketball sux! | April 7, 2008 2:20 PM
-------------------------------------------
And how exactly does one go about doing that?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2008 2:54 PM

Must be some Wiz hating Bulls fans since 'Wood put a hurting on them Saturday night amid their horrible season. So for them, basketball does suck! lol

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2008 3:20 PM

Or it's $7000 up to his little tricks again.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2008 3:48 PM

Aw, let 'em go. It used to be fun to taunt Bulls fans when they at least had a decent (though wildly overrated) team, but it's like kicking a crutch out from under a panhandler now. I even caught myself feeling sorry for Andres Nocioni, that unsportsmanlike a-hole. Bring on the Cavs and LaBronski--now that's a team worth hating!

Posted by: John Brisker | April 7, 2008 5:03 PM

I even caught myself feeling sorry for Andres Nocioni, that unsportsmanlike a-hole.
Posted by: John Brisker | April 7, 2008 5:03 PM

I don't feel sorry for them or for stupid Nocioni, his angelic face 'what did I do?' after intentionally tripping AD who is playing hard and already suffering from broken wristbones, bad ankles and knees - here's what I say to him: A-hole you're intentionally hurting a professional.

Posted by: rgz | April 7, 2008 5:14 PM

"If Juwan wants to be in the front office, I hope he's learned not to give a max contract to himself."

That's funny stuff, I was thing the same thing. :)

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | April 7, 2008 6:58 PM

Dalls needs to blow that team up after this season. They are just way, way too old. Its amazing how much that Warriors upset last year messed their psyche up. That team will never be the same, and needs a big infusion of young blood.

Posted by: Roman | April 7, 2008 9:09 PM

It was reported that Jamison practiced today and should play Wednesday, or perhaps shouldn't play but may anyway; the first unit needs some touches with everybody on deck before the playoffs.
Jordan on Gil, "Everybody is pretty much in sync," Jordan said. "Gilbert is the only one who has to gel in and that shouldn't be a problem. He has a great feel for the game and he's been in our system. He's a terrific player. It won't take long for him to gel. He just needs to get his conditioning."
Is that basketball or a hair salon Jordan is referring to?
DCMan88 should take a shampoo with the gel and conditioning and wash Gil right out of his wig.

Posted by: Myshkin | April 7, 2008 9:35 PM

"DCMan88 should take a shampoo with the gel and conditioning and wash Gil right out of his wig.

Posted by: Myshkin | April 7, 2008 9:35 PM "

Losers just can't stop with the nonbasketball related personal attacks.

Myshkin should tell his father to do this first.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 7, 2008 11:00 PM

Awwww, don't cry now little boy 88. He really wasn't picking on you. He was just treating you like everyone here treats you: by pissing on you just like the pathetic 19 year old you are. Keep on wailing away boy, nobody here cares you're getting pissed on by all. They all think you deserve it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 12:42 AM

vitriol!

Posted by: andy | April 8, 2008 1:06 AM

LMAO!

There are so many anonymous trolls on this blog, but it's fun.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 8, 2008 8:11 AM

Myshkin's dad instructed to wash and gel bald pate. Myshkin deeply regrets tweaking 88's raw Gil nerve.

Posted by: Myshkin | April 8, 2008 8:58 AM

"Myshkin's dad instructed to wash and gel bald pate. Myshkin deeply regrets tweaking 88's raw Gil nerve.

Posted by: Myshkin | April 8, 2008 8:58 AM "

Get a life and stick to this blog's topic.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 8, 2008 9:28 AM

PLEASE IGNORE DCMAN 88, HE IS RUDE, VULGAR, AND IS ONLY HERE TO ANTAGONIZE MOST OF US ON WIZARDS INSIDER. DO NOT RESPOND TO HIM OR COMMENT ON HIS POSTS.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 9:30 AM

Aye Aye Cap'n 88. Resuming search for a life and blog topic.

Posted by: Myshkin | April 8, 2008 9:34 AM

Cool.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 8, 2008 9:47 AM

"Myshkin's dad instructed to wash and gel bald pate. Myshkin deeply regrets tweaking 88's raw Gil nerve.

Posted by: Myshkin | April 8, 2008 8:58 AM "

Get a life and stick to this blog's topic.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 8, 2008 9:28 AM

Hey that's so funny, Crying Boy 88! It's the pot calling the kettle black. LMAO

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 9:48 AM

Not surprising. For most, "Variety is the spice of life." And then for you, it's hypocrisy.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 10:01 AM

The topic was OLD GUYS.
No Old Guys on the Wiz team. Our GMs have historically gotten rid of our old guys, and have not allowed them to retire 'at home'. With the exception of Wes Unseld. If I remember right Harvey Grant was the last old guy who came back to the Wiz, but subsequently retired on another team, which one was it?

Posted by: rgz | April 8, 2008 10:35 AM

"Hey that's so funny, Crying Boy 88! It's the pot calling the kettle black. LMAO

Posted by: | April 8, 2008 9:48 AM "

You would know about the pot calling the kettle black.

LMAO!

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 8, 2008 11:31 AM

PLEASE IGNORE DCMAN 88, HE IS RUDE, VULGAR, AND IS ONLY HERE TO ANTAGONIZE MOST OF US ON WIZARDS INSIDER. DO NOT RESPOND TO HIM OR COMMENT ON HIS POSTS.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 12:23 PM

PLEASE IGNORE DCMAN 88, HE IS RUDE, VULGAR, AND IS ONLY HERE TO ANTAGONIZE MOST OF US ON WIZARDS INSIDER. DO NOT RESPOND TO HIM OR COMMENT ON HIS POSTS.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 8, 2008 1:01 PM

Well, the Wizards are a young team but AD is no spring chicken and AJ will be 33 next year.

The thought of CWebb hanging 'em up, Jalen writing for ESPN, and Juwan hoping God will let him hold on for another season is a bit scary... Basically the 'nineties and the 'oughts have really flown by...

And then there is Dikembe, who goes on producing and enjoying like time has no meaning... the Satchel Paige of Hoops.

Posted by: khrabb | April 8, 2008 1:05 PM

Kareem Abdul Jabbar has a good idea about this.
www.latimes.com/kareem

Posted by: J.J. | April 8, 2008 5:07 PM

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