Sixers' Mutombo has simple philosophy about trash talk
Updated: Monday May 14, 2001 8:23 AM
By Marty Burns, Sports Illustrated
TORONTO -- When it comes to trash talk, Sixers center Dikembe Mutombo has a simple philosophy: Don't bring the mountain to Muhammed; bring a little Muhammed to Mt. Mutombo.
In response to comments by Raptors center Antonio Davis that the Sixers were bickering among themselves after their blowout loss in Game 3, Mutombo fired back Sunday.
"If you're going to talk, do it during the game," Mutombo said. "To me, Muhammed Ali was the best fighter. He was talking in the ring, even when he was lying on his back. Then he'd get up and beat people's ass. I don't like it when people talk after the game."
Mutombo certainly threw some Ali-like haymakers at the Raptors in Game 4.
He had 13 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks, and his ability to guard the basket enabled Philadelphia to stay out on Raptors star Vince Carter (25 points). "He was phenomenal in the middle, rotating over and blocking shots," Sixers guard Aaron McKie said. "He's our last line of defense, and he covered my butt today. After the game, the first guy I talked to was him, to give him a big thanks."
In some ways, Mutombo is the key to Philadelphia's title hopes. With Allen Iverson facing constant double teams, the Sixers desperately need their 7-foot-2 fly-swatter to step up as the team's No. 2 star. It's the reason they acquired him in that controversial midseason trade for Theo Ratliff and Toni Kukoc.
Until Game 4, however, Toronto had made the Mountain look like a molehill. Through the first three games of the series, Mutombo had averaged only 10.7 points and 10 rebounds. Meanwhile, Davis was outplaying him simply by fronting him on defense and shooting jumpers over him at the other end.
"My performance could have been better," Mutombo agreed. "[Raptors head coach Lenny Wilkens] knows my game. He's telling them everything I like to do. It makes it tougher, but I just have to keep playing hard."
Mutombo came out more aggressive from the start in Game 4, demanding the ball in the low post and running the floor for a fast-break dunk. He also provided an emotional spark. After sinking a short hook in the lane (on a Carter goaltending call) to put his team ahead 68-56 in the third quarter, he ran down the court pumping his fists.
"Today was like sudden death," Mutombo said of his rare emotional displays. "I can't let a big opportunity like this to pass me by. I've never been in the conference finals before. Whatever it takes, I'm going to do it."
For Mutombo, that means even resorting to a little Ali-style trash talk.
Ever the defiant warrior as he stood shirtless in the Sixers locker room after Game 4, he chastised Davis for questioning his team's chemistry and provided a little boast of his own. "It got us upset," Mutombo said.
"We're shutting the rim down for the rest of the series."