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Injury forces Mutombo to call it quits
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 Houston Rockets' Dikembe Mutombo lies injured in the first half of their NBA playoff game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland on Tuesday. Houston lost to the Trail Blazers 107-101 as their playoff series was leveled at 1-1. An emotional Mutombo, 43, ended his 18-year professional NBA career right after the game.

Houston Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo said his career is finished after a knee injury knocked him out of the Rockets' playoff game on Tuesday night against the Trail Blazers.

"For me, basketball is over," he said.

The oldest NBA player at 42, Mutombo injured his left knee and left the court on a stretcher. The Congolese reserve center appeared to get tangled with Portland center Greg Oden and came down hard on the leg late in the first quarter of Game 2.

Mutombo stayed prone on the court under the Blazers' basket for several moments before he was taken from the court. A preliminary examination revealed a knee strain and he was ruled out the rest of the game.

In the locker room, the 2.18-meter veteran was on crutches and fighting back tears.

"Nobody ever thought they'd be carrying the big guy out like a wounded soldier," he said.

"Dikembe is one of the statesmen of this league," teammate Shane Battier said. "There's not a better guy. To see him in pain is tough to see. He cares so much about this game that he doesn't want to end his career like that. That's the tragedy of it, too."

Mutombo is an eight-time All-Star who won the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award four times and stands in second on the NBA's career blocks list with 3,289. He has played for Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Houston.

In 1,196 career games, Mutombo has averaged 9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. The Rockets re-signed Mutombo in December after he played in 39 games. He played in nine regular-season games with the Rockets, averaging 1.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.22 blocks.

"I've had a wonderful 18 years of staying injury-free, so I just want to go out with my head up, no regrets," he said.

(Agencies via Shanghai Daily April 23, 2009)

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