An interesting development in the saga of the loquacious fan who “inadvertently” called Dikembe Mutombo a “monkey” during last week’s Rockets-Magic game. Mr. Hooman Hamzehloui has written a formal apology to Mutombo and will not attend another Magic game until Mutombo gives him the Dikembe seal of approval. And as a gesture of good faith, Mr. Hamzehloui will also donate 5,000 dollars to a charity of Dikembe’s choice.
Here is what I find interesting: I am going to venture a guess that Mr. Hamzehloui is not of American decent. Would an American fan have apologized in such a way? I don’t think so. And I don’t know what to make of Mr. Hamzehloui’s comment that he didn’t know “monkey” was an insult. Not sure I believe that. My three cents on what I think happened: Mr. Hamzehloui works in the people business, selling homes in Orlando’s premier housing area ; any hostility with a public figure like Dikembe Mutombo would not only have been embarrassing but hurt his business, especially when Shaq and Tiger Woods both live in that part of Orlando. So Mr. Hamzehoui realizes he made a mistake, owns up to it, and gets mention on the World Wide Leader and other media outlets. That’s smart marketing. No American fan would have done that. Joe Six-Pack, Mr. Hard-Workin’ Blue-Collar Average American Fan, would have told Dikembe it’s a fan’s right to heckle and if he didn’t like it, well, he could go back to Africa. And that’s the difference between us and the rest of the world, folks. Here in America we say “Happy New Year”.