Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Tribute to the Career of Alonzo Mourning

Who is Alonzo Mourning? Is he the passion-driven defensive warrior that willed his determination day in and day out underneath that Miami Heat jersey? How about the survivor of a potentially deadly kidney transplant at the height of his career? Maybe he's the benevolent soul that created a kidney transplant foundation, hosts holiday giveaways, and stages a summer camp for children to benefit from?

The truth is, that Alonzo Mourning is "all of the above" and more. His legacy has meant so much to Miami, both on and off the court, and has served as a model for other great athletes to follow. Here's a man who's determination is seemingly unmatched and focus is undeterred by any possible distraction that may present itself (including the reality of a dangerous kidney disease). His compassion became a trademark of the Miami Heat and created an image of success and graciousness for over a decade. It's only just for us to review his career as a member of the Miami Heat.

"Zo" capped off his career with accolades that are honorable in all senses of the word. By the numbers, here's how it breaks down: 7 All-Star Nominations, 2 Defensive Player of the Year Awards, 2 NBA All-Defensive First Team Nominations, 1 NBA Championship. He once led the NBA with 3.91 Blocks in 1999, was part of the 2000 Gold-Medal Olympic "Dream Team," and is still the Miami Heat's All-Time Franchise Leading Scorer. Need I say any more statistics and awards? The man has proven to the world that he can play world-class basketball with the best of them. If one characteristic were to determine his induction into the NBA Hall of Fame it would be his blunt will to play the game with a relentless intensity. Ask any player who matched up against Zo Mourning, and they will tell attest to feeling Zo's intensity in the air.
When Alonzo Mourning announced his retirement, it was a day of bitter sweet emotions for Alonzo, the Heat organization, and the Miami community. Everyone knew that his mission on the court was accomplished in 2006 with a championship under his belt and his career was marked off by a season-ending injury in 2008. On the day of his last game, Magic Johnson was in the crowd, and he followed Zo to the locker room to give him some words of advice. "Let it go," he said, urging Mourning to call it quits as he already lived the dream of every NBA player and has the ring to show for it.

Although Zo ended his mission on the court, he has only begun his mission to better the community and the general population. This warrior will undoubtedly translate all the virtues of being a great player towards the efforts of improving our communities on a daily basis. His basketball career will be forever remembered in Miami Heat history and his career as a community contributor will continue to thrive as long as his soul lives. Here's a tribute to a great man in sports, a great model for society, and a great leader for progress. Best of luck to good ole' number thirty-three. I can't wait to see your number be raised to the rafters and retired for eternity in Heat history.

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