Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Who Wants to Obey Mutombo?

Dear Dikembe,

I've decided to write letters to different NBA figures each Sunday, and before my first letter addressing the actual season, I wanted to write one to you and also name this potentially short-lived enterprise after you as a tribute. A friend of a friend of mine, a cellist, was trying to get a new license at the Atlanta DMV the other day and he says that when he finally got to the front of the line, he looked over and there you were at the counter next to his, Dikembe Mutombo, with your kids. He says your kids were hitting each other with those pens attached to the chains on the counter and that you looked like you were struggling, which made him feel better, that even Mutombo suffers when he visits the DMV. And he says that your kids kept whipping each other with the pens until finally, exasperated, you shouted, "WHY CAN YOU NOT BEHAVE IN PUBLIC?" Why can you not behave in public! That's the best thing I've heard in a long time. I'm writing this letter, in part, to ask you to confirm the veracity of this story, along with the veracity of that other famous story of you shouting another question--Who wants to sex Mutombo?, of course--in a bar many years ago. It occurred to me just now that the difference between the two questions you asked, and even their respective settings, reveals a whole lot about the nature of time, Dikembe, and what it means to age. One second we're young and free, entering bars where everybody knows our name and wants to sex us, and then suddenly we're old and chained down like pens at a DMV, pleading with our children to behave while we renew our driver's license. I haven't yet reached that later stage--my child is probably still too small to reach the pens without assistance--and I never reached that earlier stage at all, unfortunately, but it would mean a great deal to me to know that these two stories are actually true and not just apocryphal. I'm a big fan. We miss you. Your bobble-finger doll sits next to a fake plant on top of our refrigerator, the only place my wife would allow it. I'll be writing you again near the end of the season, to ask you to return to the league one more time to help the Rockets in their push for the eighth seed.



P.S. You may not care about this at all, Deke, but I wrote another open letter a few weeks back to a non-NBA figure about the vetoed Pau Gasol trade and Houston's other sports troubles in 2011, and even though a certain long-form sports and entertainment website didn't respond at all when I asked them to consider running it, I still enjoyed getting that stuff off my chest. Anyway, you can find the (already somewhat dated) letter here, if you still have any interest in Houston sports, despite your current Atlanta driver's license.