In our “Chat with Congo Cash” earlier this week, DJ Mbenga addressed all kinds of topics from his nickname to fashion to Africa to nuggets about his Lakers teammates.
Among his most interesting comments came as he detailed his donation of a basketball court in Kobe Bryant’s name to his native Democratic Republic of Congo:
I always say, when we talk about Michael Jordan we always set him apart. But people gotta realize now, it’s not just Michael Jordan. It’s Kobe too. I told him, “I’m going to give you the best gift you’ve ever had … I’m building a basketball court in Congo with your name on it. People they love you there. You helped me to get a ring, I’m going to give you something back. I’m going to give you a basketball court with your name – that’s something nobody else can have. Even Michael Jordan never had that. I told him, “You’re going to give people hope. There are kids that are stealing, killing, (doing drugs) … instead I want them to play basketball at the Kobe … Bryant … Court.” It’s going to be in Kinshasa*. They are going to start working on it in a couple of weeks. Everything’s already been set up through my foundation.
After L.A. defeated Golden State on Monday night, we had a chance to ask Kobe about the honor:
It makes me feel great. He told me he was going to have a surprise for me, and something he and I talk about often is visiting Congo and speaking to some of the kids. DJ and I have a really close relationship. This is a tremendous honor, something that I didn’t expect. (DJ does) a ton for (the people) over there. It’s something that people don’t hear about, but he doesn’t do it for the attention, he does it because it’s something that’s close to his heart. I absolutely have to (go visit).