DIKEMBE MUTOMBO, the Rockets' backup center and former Sixer, attended the inauguration of President Barack Obama with his wife, Rose, his oldest son, Regan, and his father, Samuel, who made the trip from his homeland, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"It was really significant, important for me as an African, to see another son of an African man be elected president of the U.S.," Mutombo said. "It's something no one ever [thought] would happen that fast, but to see it happen to a first generation son of an African was important. There was a huge celebration in Africa. Even today, when you talk to family or a loved one, everybody is still celebrating."

Mutombo said his 80-year-old father became very emotional.

"It made him believe the future can be bright for anyone in America. He reflected so much on our experience, the things he has been able to see, sending me to America to go to school. I got a good education, and when the door opened for me to play in the NBA I was able to have a wonderful career and do something nobody ever thought [would be done]. To see another son of an African man do the same thing, that was very important for him. Hopefully, before my father goes back, if I can arrange it, we can have a visit to the White House. I have to make a couple of phone calls."

- Phil Jasner

Fitzgerald ready to take one for team

Larry Fitzgerald personifies the definition of "team player." Yesterday, the Cardinals receiver said he would be willing to restructure his contract if it would help keep fellow receiver Anquan Boldin on the team.

"No problem," Fitzgerald said from Tampa, where the Cardinals are preparing to play Pittsburgh in Sunday's Super Bowl.

Boldin has 2 years left on the 4-year, $22.75 million deal he signed after the 2005 season. He said in training camp he would like to be traded because he feels management lied to him by not following through on a promise for a new contract. Since then, however, his position has softened. *