Former Miami Heat superstar Alonzo Mourning headlines the NBA Hall of Fame Class of 2014 induction ceremony this Friday in Springfield, Massachusetts. Mourning will be accompanied by the two men who had the biggest impact on his career in the game of basketball – John Thompson (Georgetown) and Pat Riley (Miami Heat).
Mourning’s list of accomplishments on the court included an NBA Championship, a 7-time NBA All-Star and a 2-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. For his career, he averaged 17.1 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game, and most impressively 2.8 blocks per game.
While Mourning dominated on the court for 15 seasons, it was what he overcame off the court that made his upcoming Hall of Fame induction possible. It seemed unlikely that Mourning would ever step foot onto the basketball court again following the 2002-2003 season, when he was diagnosed with a serious kidney disease. Not only did Mourning survive the life-threatening illness, but he would soon return to the NBA and play another five seasons.
Although he also played for the Charlotte Hornets and the New Jersey Nets, Mourning will always be remembered as a Miami Heat icon in the eyes of basketball fans around the world. Heat fans will forever cherish what he brought to the organization – an organization that before him had accomplished nothing.
Considering what Mourning meant to the Miami Heat franchise and the fact that it is Hall of Fame week, I felt as though a tribute of some sort was necessary for Zo. For the next five days (one a day) I will reflect on Mourning’s notable moments in Heat history.
With this in mind, let’s begin…
#5 – Alonzo Mourning Traded to the Miami Heat
I begin my countdown of the five most notable moments in Alonzo Mourning’s Heat history with the announcement that he was being traded to the Heat organization (of course).
Pat Riley bolted from the New York Knicks to join the Miami Heat prior to the 1995-1996 season. At the time, the Heat were not a very good basketball organization and had accomplished very little in their first seven years of existence (no playoff series wins).
Riley needed a face of the franchise that he could build around for the future – he found that when he acquired Alonzo Mourning from the Charlotte Hornets shorty after his arrival in South Florida.
The trade (officially Mourning, Pete Myers, and LeRon Ellis to the Heat and Glen Rice, Matt Geiger, Khalid Reeves, and a first round pick to the Hornets) was one that looking back, the Heat clearly won. Rice, the centerpiece of the deal going back to Charlotte, had some quality seasons following the trade but nothing quite like Mourning had in Miami.
The other players in the transaction never amounted to much (for either side). Mourning would spend a part of 11 NBA seasons with the Miami Heat following the trade while Rice would only spend three years in Charlotte.
Following retirement, Mourning was brought into a front-office position with the Miami Heat organization. He has occupied the Vice President of Player Programs and Development role for the Heat since 2009. His status in the organization may could even lead to him being the successor of current Heat President Pat Riley.
The trade that sent Alonzo Mourning to the Miami Heat forever changed the direction of the organization. Quite simply, Zo put the Heat on the map. Without him, there is good reason to believe that the Heat would still be searching for their first ever championship.
Check back tomorrow (Wednesday) when I unveil the fourth-most notable moment in Mourning’s career as we get another day closer to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony Friday night.