NBA's Mutombo Has Malaria

Atlanta Hawks center Dikembe Mutombo has a mild

case of malaria, and is expected miss about two weeks.

“It’s not life threatening, it’s not career threatening,” Hawks general manager Pete Babcock said today. “It sounds terrible, but it’s really like a bad case of the flu.”

Mutombo was hospitalized with a fever Monday in Springfield, Mass., where the Hawks played in the NBA Hall of Fame exhibition game against the Boston Celtics. Babcock said the team learned Mutombo had the disease at halftime of Monday’s game.

“He was feeling better Sunday, and when we visited the Hall of Fame as a team, he went with us,” Babcock said. “He started feeling worse and complained about having a high fever, and our trainer suggested he go to the hospital and get it checked out.”

Return Questionable

The Hawks don’t know when Mutombo will be able to return. Atlanta opens the season Oct. 31 against the Charlotte Hornets.

“According to the doctors, the medicine that he has been given will knock out the malaria completely,” Babcock said. “The doctors can’t give a time frame of when he’ll be back any more than they could if he had the flu.

“He’ll come back whenever he’s healthy and his body recovers.”

The 7-foot-tall center was on his way back to Atlanta on Tuesday and not available for comment. Babcock said Mutombo would rest at home.

Doctors believe Mutombo contracted the disease when he was bitten by a mosquito during a September trip to the Congo, Babcock said. Malaria, which is not contagious, is usually characterized by chills, fever and sweating.

Mutombo, entering his 10th year in the NBA, averaged 11.5 points and a league-leading 14.1 rebounds last season. He played at Georgetown with the Miami Heat’s Alonzo Mourning, who announced Monday he will miss the upcoming season with a kidney disease.