Alonzo Mourning finds home in Hall of Fame
Growing up in a household that loved basketball, the 1992 NBA Draft divided my brother and myself for the rest of our lives when it came to the NBA. I instantly became a Shaquille O’Neal fan and my brother became an Alonzo Mourning fan. Even though both were big men, their careers would be totally different. Shaq would win 4 championships, while Mourning would win just one. Shaq demanded the spotlight and went Hollywood, Mourning kept to himself and had a kidney transplant. But I think the biggest thing that sticks out is……while Shaq still to this day shows no class and makes fun of the less fortunate, Mourning has shown the NBA fans how an athlete should conduct himself. How class looks, how to be humble and in the end if I could take back picking Shaq over Mourning I would in a heartbeat. Class and respect go so much farther in this world then a couple more rings.
On Friday, Alonzo Mourning was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. In his speech (that went about 20 minutes over the allotted five-minute limit), he thanked everyone that helped make this possible. From his coaches to his teachers to his foster-mother (who raised him) to the doctors that helped get him back on the court.
During Mourning’s speech he took the opportunity to talk about the disease that threatened his life and potentially ending his career. For those that do not recall…..On November 25, 2003, Mourning retired from the NBA (the first time) due to complications from his kidney disease. On December 19, 2003 Mourning underwent a successful kidney transplant. A transplant that had his cousin-turned-kidney donor, Jason Cooper stepping up and helping Mourning not only live, but have the opportunity to return to the game.
“There was such purpose to my life at that point and I never doubted – no matter how long the odds – that it was possible,” Morning said during Friday night’s induction ceremony. “I just thought, ‘This is much bigger than me.’ I had a goal set to win a championship that was declined when I got kidney disease.”
When Mourning made his return to the league and the New Jersey Nets (his current team), he was very vocal about his unhappiness with the team. The Nets traded him to Toronto where he never showed, before making his final return to the Miami Heat. The Heat would be his final destination, playing a part-time role with who other, Shaquille O’Neal. Yes, the two players that divided my brother and I for life when it came to the NBA, became teammates and helped make the Miami Heat NBA Finals Champions.
Mourning had a career average of 17.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 2.8 bpg. He was a seven-time All-Star and was one of only eight players to win the defensive player of the year award at least twice and an Olympic gold medal.
“He had to be the first one to have his jersey retired by this franchise,” Heat President Pat Riley said. “He earned it, many times over.”
Unlike Shaq, who is where he is because of strictly stats, Mourning is where he is because of his journey, what he over came and his becoming “The Ultimate Warrior“. There is no better guy, NBA player or inspiration that is more deserving of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I am just glad I got to grow up in an era that had such class and I am glad I grew up (myself) and could learn to appreciate what Mourning did as a person, what he over came and respect the class he brought to the game.
Career Highlights and Awards
- NBA champion (2006)
- 7× NBA All-Star (1994–1997, 2000–2002)
- All-NBA First Team (1999)
- All-NBA Second Team (2000)
- 2× NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1999–2000)
- 2× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1999–2000)
- 2× NBA blocks champion (1999-2000)
- NBA All-Rookie First Team (1993)
- J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (2002)
- Miami Heat all time leader in blocks.
- No. 33 retired by Miami Heat
- Consensus first team All-American (1992)
- Consensus second team All-American (1990)
- Big East Conference Player of the Year (1992)
- Big East Tournament MVP (1992)
- USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (1990)
- McDonald’s All-American MVP (1988)
- Naismith Prep Player of the Year (1988)