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Mutombo yet to decide on future course

DIKEMBE Mutombo has gotten over the sadness of the end of his playing career. He'll take some time before deciding what he wants to do next.

The 42-year-old said he was retired from basketball after rupturing a quadriceps tendon in his left knee early in Houston's 103-107 loss to Portland in their National Basketball Association playoff series on Tuesday.

The 2.19-meter Mutombo will have surgery on Monday. He limped around the Toyota Center in Houston on a crutch on Thursday but stayed upbeat as he chatted with reporters.

"I've been in a positive mode for the last couple of days," Mutombo said. "Maybe I think I cried enough when I was on the floor. I cried again when I got in the training room and when the doctor tried to talk to me. But right now, I think I have to be happy."

Mutombo played for six NBA teams, was the league's top defensive player four times and played in eight All-Star games over 18 seasons. He ranks 17th in rebounds (12,359) and finished with 3,289 career blocks, second to Hakeem Olajuwon (3,830). "I had a wonderful, wonderful ride."

Mutombo said he would talk with his wife, Rose, and six children before deciding what he might do now. He's been active for years in humanitarian efforts.

Mutombo's most personal project is the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, which opened in December 2007, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mutombo donated US$19 million and set up a foundation to raise money for the hospital, named after his late mother.

Mutombo had pondered retirement after last season, then re-signed with the Rockets on December 31, seeing one last opportunity to win an NBA championship. He played in only nine games in the regular season, but continued to be a valuable role model for Houston's younger players, particularly Yao Ming.

"A great person, not just on the court, but also off it," Yao said. "People know about his charities back in Africa. In the locker room, he always teaches the young guys to do the right thing."


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