Sports Envoy
Sports Envoy Program

Sam Perkins

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2005  –  Algeria
  • 2008  –  Kyrgyzstan
  • 2008  –  Kazakhstan
  • 2009  –  Qatar
  • 2010  –  Indonesia
  • 2011  –  South Sudan
  • 2012  –  United Kingdom

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Perkins attended Samuel J. Tilden High School. He later attended and graduated from Shaker High School in Latham, New York. He was named large-school player of the year (high school) by the New York State Sportswriters Association in 1980 and was also named to the 35 Greatest Boys McDonald’s All Americans team.

Perkins attended college at the University of North Carolina and played basketball for the North Carolina Tar Heels from 1980 to 1984. He was named ACC Rookie of the Year in 1981 and starred alongside future NBA Hall of Famers James Worthy and Michael Jordan on the Tar Heels’ 1982 NCAA championship team. A three-time All-American, Perkins was the 1984 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year. Perkins finished his collegiate basketball career as the Tar Heels’ all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots and as the second-highest scorer in team history. He graduated from UNC in 1984.

Perkins was a co-captain of the gold-medal-winning 1984 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team.

Chosen by the Dallas Mavericks as the fourth overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft, Perkins went on to play as a power forward and center in the NBA from 1984 to 2001. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1985. Perkins played for the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Seattle SuperSonics, and the Indiana Pacers, respectively. He scored a career-high 45 points on April 12, 1990. Perkins tied an NBA record on January 15, 1997 by making eight three-pointers without a miss. He appeared in three NBA Finals: The 1991 NBA Finals (with the Lakers), the 1996 NBA Finals (with the SuperSonics), and the 2000 NBA Finals (with the Pacers). In Game One of the 1991 NBA Finals, Perkins made a game-winning three-point shot to defeat the Chicago Bulls. He was known by the nicknames “Sleepy Sam”, “Big Smooth”, and “The Big Easy”.

Since his retirement in 2001, Perkins has been actively involved in a variety of charitable endeavors, including Special Olympics, Nothing But Nets in conjunction with the United Nations, Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers, Carolina for Kibera, NBA Cares, Basketball Without Borders and Habitat for Humanity.

In 2002, Perkins was named to the ACC 50th Anniversary men’s basketball team as one of the fifty greatest players in Atlantic Coast Conference history.

In 2008, Perkins was named vice president of player relations for the Indiana Pacers. That September, he was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.

In October 2011, Perkins traveled to South Sudan as a SportsUnited Sports Envoy for the U.S. Department of State, where he worked with Hall of Fame NBA center Dikembe Mutombo to lead a series of basketball clinics and team building exercises with youths, the South Sudanese Wheelchair Basketball Team, and 36 coaches.

Perkins was named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.

Dikembe Mutombo

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2007  –  Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 2011  –  South Sudan

Dikembe Mutombo hails from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 1987, Mutombo was the recipient of a USAID scholarship to attend Georgetown University, and he soon excelled both academically and in basketball. In the 1991 NBA draft, the Denver Nuggets drafted Mutombo with the fourth overall pick. The Nuggets ranked last in the NBA in opponent points-per-game and defensive rating and Mutombo’s shot-blocking ability made an immediate impression across the league.

As a rookie, Mutombo was selected for the All-Star team and averaged 16.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, and nearly three blocks per game. Over his career, he averaged 2.8 blocks and 10.3 rebounds per game. He is second all-time in registered blocks, behind only Hakeem Olajuwon, and is the 20th most prolific rebounder ever. He was also an eight-time All-Star and was elected into three All-NBA and six All-Defensive Teams.

A well-known humanitarian, Mutombo started the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve living conditions in his native Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997. His efforts earned him the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2001 and 2009. For his feats, Sporting News named him as one of the “Good Guys in Sports” in 1999 and 2000. In 1999, he was elected as one of 20 winners of the President’s Service Awards, the nation’s highest honor for volunteer service.

In 2004, he participated in the Basketball Without Borders NBA program, where NBA stars toured Africa to spread the word about basketball and to improve the infrastructure. He paid for uniforms and expenses for the Zaire women’s basketball team during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. Mutombo is also a spokesman for the international relief agency, CARE and is the first Youth Emissary for the United Nations Development Program.