He may have been past his prime, but Alonzo Mourning played a key part in the Miami Heat’s first-ever NBA championship. Coming off the bench for Shaquille O’Neal at the time, Mourning made sure the Heat were never without a rim protector. His defensive intensity was an asset throughout his career, but that season it gave Miami a unique wrinkle not unlike how the team always had an alpha-dog scorer on the floor during the Big 3 era.
That constant rim protection, plus the rim penetration by Dwyane Wade, was the Heat’s identity that 2006 season. During the red carpet ceremony for the Basketball Hall Of Fame enshrinement ceremony, Mourning talked about that season with NBA TV.
“It worked because it was supposed to, it really was,” Mourning says. “I’m a strong believer that when you do things the right way, good things happen. And we did things the right way at the right time.
“Even though there were some doubts along the way, especially during that playoff run, some ups and downs, but when it counted the most we did things the right way for us to win.”
Mourning goes on.
“Guys put forth the effort, we made shots, we made the extra pass, we shared the ball, we trusted one another and good things happen in that moment.”
“It was our time. It truly was.”
“Being down 0-2 to [the Dallas Mavericks] and winning four games in a row riding the heroics of Dwyane Wade, it was a blessing. Having a collective contribution from everybody at that particular time, it was our time. It’s exciting to have experienced that and so many other parts of my journey that lead me here to the Hall Of Fame.”
That was a neat story by Zo. What stands out to me is that he remembers feeling the doubts during that tough playoff run. A small, honest window into what surely happens in every NBA Champion locker room at some point.