What more can be said about Alonzo Mourning and his amazing All-Star seasons, comeback from kidney disease and triumphant return to the Miami Heat to be an important piece to help win the 2006 NBA Championship?
Now we can learn more about him from the man himself from a conference call held today by the Miami Heat...
On what it means to be chosen for this honor:
(Getting selected) into the Hall of Fame, whether it be hockey, baseball, football, you name it...that is the pinnacle. After winning a world championship, I think that's pretty much as far as you can go.
I had several conversations with (fellow inductee Nolan Richardson) and last night at dinner we were just reflecting back because he has a relationship with (former Georgetown coach) John Thompson and he was telling me, 'Listen, I've had schools named after me, won league championships, coached some great players and the only other place to go after the Hall of Fame is heaven.'
I'm excited about the opportunity to represent every last individual that has helped contribute to this moment. When you think about all the lives and individuals that I've developed a bond with - whether it be teachers, coaches, principals, you name it - all of them played a particular role in my development as a person as well as an athlete. I'll be taking a part of them into the Hall of Fame with me. I just hope to God that I continue to represent them well and represent the Hall of Fame family as well.
On what he's most proud of when looking back on his career:
I can't single out one particular thing. But I think the biggest obstacle that I had to overcome in my whole career, that it really helped me build a lot of confidence in myself, was when I came back from my kidney transplant. And when I came back, there was a lot of people that doubted me but I had some deep doubts as well because going through that whole process and laying stretched out in that operating table and just seeing the images of that, there was some doubt in me that I would be able to come back and compete at a very high level again.
That's the one thing I'm most proud of...that I broke through that particular obstacle in my life and I got back on my own feet and not only did I play the game at a high level but I contributed to a team to help them win a world championship which was my first. And on top of that, the opportunity and the confidence and all the good things that came out of the fact that as a transplant survivor, I was able to change the overall perspective of millions of other individuals that were dealing with kidney-related or health-related issues, I helped them change their overall perspective on how they were able to deal with their certain obstacles as well. So that's probably my proudest moment. You would think it would be the world championship but I think that when you think of the health scare that I had, that affects more people in this world than me winning the world championship. So I feel like that was much bigger.
On what motivated him to come back and continue his career:
What motivated me was just my inner drive that you all have as sports writers and fans have seen out on the court for years. You've seen that drive. It's very difficult to hold or diminish that drive. The only thing that has diminished that drive is Father Time and (he's) undefeated. As I got older, that drive diminished because in my mind I still feel like I could do it but obviously my body won't allow me to do it because of age.
Now, I still have that drive but I use that towards continuing to contribute to the Heat organization, to my foundation, to my family, to golf now which has been the perfect void in transitioning from professional sports. I found something that kind of fills that competitive void. But that drive, that's what got me back on the court.
On the famous block from Game 6 of the 2006 NBA Finals:
That particular moment kind of defined what I was all about when it came to the game of basketball. It was about a deep passion to win. I felt like that particular game, if we didn't leave it all out on the line - and I'm a strong believer that guys feed off of other guys energy out there on the court - I felt like I didn't want to look back on that moment and say I wish I would have done this differently or what have you.
That moment pretty much defines what my career was all about, and it was about leaving it all out there on the floor in order to be successful. I didn't want to waste my time when I was out there on the court and I definitely didn't want to waste my teammates' time. So I felt like my energy a lot of time was contagious and sometimes I had to corral my emotions because I was so passionate about the game. But guys fed off of that and it fueled them to play that much harder because they saw me doing it. I think that when I came back from this physical obstacle I had to deal with and guys saw me out there on the court, it just motivated them a little bit. Some of my teammates shared that with me and they were like, 'Listen man, I came here to practice every day and when I see you doing it, I have no excuse.'
So it wasn't about a whole lot of senseless rhetoric, it was about leading by example.
On whether he was satisfied with his career before the transplant:
I wasn't satisfied and the reason why was because when Pat Riley traded five guys and some picks to bring me to Miami, I made a commitment to him and I said I was in this to help us win a championship. When I came up short with the kidney disease, I asked God to give me the strength to get back on the court again. That was my goal to possibly try to put myself in the position where I could get back and help this franchise win. Words are powerful, thoughts are powerful and I'm a strong believer in that. If you think it, if you speak it then it'll happen. I just formulated it in my mind where yeah, I had some doubt, but there was not one part of me ever that wanted to give up. I had some doubts because it was unfamiliar territory to me. I've had a lot of injuries but no injury is as severe as a kidney transplant.
So when I reached that point I knew that those first eight years of my career, those were Hall of Fame numbers with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks per game in those years through Charlotte and Miami. But for me to end it in 2000 the way it happened, I felt like deep down inside I felt like, 'You know what? I'm going through this for a reason but I still got a lot of work to do and I'm not going to give up until I know for sure that I can't get back out there at all.'
On his legacy:
As far as my legacy is concerned, I just want people to know that, from a legacy perspective, is that there's more to Alonzo Mourning then what they've seen on the basketball court. A lot of people will follow my legacy just based on what they've seen on the court and there's more to my life than that.
It was a fantasy world for me, it truly was. What I went throughout my career, it was a dream come true. Playing in the NBA, traveling around the world, developing relationships with people, making a lot of money. It really was a dream come true but it was temporary. Now God willing, I got another 40 or 50 years left on this Earth. So now you can just take those relationships and your experiences and all of which you learned...and it's not about being a better basketball player, it's about being the best person every day you wake up in the morning.
Part of being a good person is stimulating successes in other people's lives. Because you're not here by yourself. You don't take this journey by yourself so that's been a lot of my focus and I feel like my legacy off the court will overshadow the things that I've done on the court.