As soon as the Warriors touched down in Japan, they’ve been greeted and treated by fans eager to welcome the defending champions into their country.
But on Thursday, it was Jonathan Kuminga who took a step back and admired someone whose journey hits close to home for him.
Fellow Congolese NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo officially met Kuminga, who’s also from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at the NBA Cares event in Tokyo.
After the special 1-on-1 interaction between the two Congolese players, Andre Iguodala joined the conversation to fulfill his duties as Kuminga’s biggest hypeman … and biggest critic.
But when you have a Hall of Famer in front of you, you have to be on your best behavior.
“He’s good, he’s really good,” Iguodala told Mutombo as Kuminga stood there with a big grin across his face. “He’s so good! He’s good.”
Of course, the relationship between Iguodala and Kuminga is unique in the most remarkable way. It's the type of guidance expected to help the 19-year-old elevate his game to the next level in his sophomore season.
And surely any advice from Mutombo, an eight-time All-Star, will go a long way for Kuminga as well.
Mutombo played 18 seasons in the NBA from 1991 to 2009 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. Standing at 7-foot-2 and weighing 260 pounds, Mutombo is regarded as one of the greatest shot blockers and defensive players of all time.
Though retired from the NBA for more than a decade now, Mutombo's presence across the league goes a long way, especially for players like Kuminga who continue to listen and learn in the early stages of their professional careers.