Throwback Thursday - Alonzo Mourning
Alonzo Harding Mourning, Jr., born February 8, 1970 nicknamed "Zo", Mourning played at center. His tenacity on defense twice earned him NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award and perennially placed him on the NBA All-Defensive Team. He made a comeback after undergoing a kidney transplant and later won the 2006 NBA Championship with the Heat. He has also played for the Charlotte Hornets and New Jersey Nets. On March 30, 2009, Mourning became the first Miami Heat player to have his number retired. Since June 26, 2009, Mourning has served as Vice President of Player Programs and Development for the Heat. On April 7, 2014, it was announced that Mourning will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Mourning was selected second overall in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, behind Shaquille O'Neal. Mourning was named to the league's all-rookie team in 1993 after averaging 21.0 pts, 10.3 rebounds, and 3.47 blocks. He finished second to Shaquille O'Neal in rookie of the year voting. He posted the highest scoring average of any rookie in Hornets history. Mourning and O'Neal were the first NBA rookies since David Robinson in 1989–90 to average 20 or more points and 10-plus rebounds in their first seasons. Mourning shattered Charlotte's blocked-shots records, becoming the Hornets' all-time career leader in the 49th game of the season. The greatest moment of Mourning's rookie season came on May 5, 1993 in Game 4 of a first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics. His 20-footer at the buzzer gave the Hornets a 104–103 victory in the game and a three-games-to-one victory in the series. The Hornets lost in the second round to the New York Knicks in 5 games, with Mourning averaging of 23.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.4 blocks in 9 playoff games. The following year, Mourning played in just 60 games, maintaining similar averages in points, rebounds and blocks, but the Hornets missed the playoffs.
In the 1994–95 season, Mourning and teammate Larry Johnson led the Hornets to a 50-win season and reached the playoffs. Mourning ranked first on the team in scoring (21.3 ppg), rebounding (9.9 rpg), blocked shots (2.92 per game), and field goal percentage (.519), and played in the 1995 NBA All-Star Game where he scored 10 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. The Hornets lost in 4 games to the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, despite Mourning posting 22 points, 13.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks for the series
Mourning announced his retirement from the NBA on January 22, 2009. In his press conference he said, "I'm 38 years old and I feel like I have physically done all I can for this game." One month later, the Heat announced that they would retire Mourning's number 33 jersey, making him the first Heat player to be so honored. The jersey retirement ceremony occurred on March 30, 2009, when the Heat hosted the Orlando Magic. During the extended halftime ceremony, Mourning was introduced by Florida Governor Charlie Crist; former Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson; Basketball Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing; Heat players Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem; and Heat head coach Pat Riley.
In May 2009 he was named to the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame, which honors athletes, coaches and administrators who contributed to sports in southeastern Virginia. In the following April, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of his outstanding high school, collegiate, and professional career as well as his commitment to volunteer service in the communities in which he has lived and worked throughout his life.