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Mutombo NBA's Top Defensive Player

Dikembe Mutombo of the Atlanta Hawks, named Tuesday as the NBA Defensive Player of the Year for a record third time, said there's just one more thing he wants.

"Playing in a championship game and winning," he said.

The Hawks seem to be doing better in the awards category than in their quest for a championship. In addition to Mutombo's honors this season, Alan Henderson was named the league's most improved player and Steve Smith won the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his $2.5 million donation to Michigan State University.

Mutombo warned against disregarding the team.

"You can't just look at what happened this year," he said. "To go as far as we did is a great accomplishment."

Mutombo led Atlanta to a 50-32 record by anchoring a defense that ranked fourth in blocked shots (5.99 per game), eighth in points allowed (92.3) and 11th in field goal percentage (.442). He finished second in the NBA in blocked shots with 3.38 per game and fourth in rebounds with 11.4. He has 2,027 blocks for his career, tied with Larry Nance for 10th place in NBA history.

Mutombo, who also won the award in 1995 and 1997, received 39 of a possible 116 votes from a panel of sports writers and broadcasters.

"This reflects well on him and the team," coach Lenny Wilkens said. "We're going to try and get that championship a lot sooner than you realize."

Gary Payton of Seattle, the 1996 winner, finished second with 37 votes and San Antonio's David Robinson was third with 10 votes. Eleven other players received at least one vote.

Since the NBA began handing out the award in 1983, four other players had won twice: Sidney Moncrief, Mark Eaton, Dennis Rodman and Hakeem Olajuwon.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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