Mourning election a big Heat moment

By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com


VIDEO: Alonzo Mourning talks to Jim Nantz after his election to the Class of 2014

Sure Gary Payton counts. But he played just two of 17 seasons in Miami, with a ring from the 2006 championship but also with his mortality showing as the last two of the 17 and The Glove more nickname than accurate description.

Alonzo Mourning, though, is pure Heat.

That’s what made Monday so meaningful, beyond the obvious individual salute with the official announcement that Mourning had been elected to the Hall of Fame. It was a moment for the entire franchise. It was a moment for all South Florida.

In joining 2013 inductee Payton as the second former Miami player to be enshrined, “Zo” became the first Miami player, and that’s more than semantics. Mourning came to a team in 1995-96 that had never finished better than fourth in the Atlantic Division and had a winning record once in seven years of existence. Titles, and not of the division variety, followed. Unlike anyone in uniform, and second only to Pat Riley in any job, he made them.

The election of Mitch Richmond was also made official Monday in Dallas in conjunction with the Final Four, along with induction for college coaches Gary Williams and Nolan Richardson as part of the Class of 2014 that already included David Stern, Sarunas Marciulionis and Bob (Slick) Leonard among others. Mitch Richmond is a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native.

Enshrinement festivities are Aug. 7-9 in Springfield, Mass., but just try avoiding the South Florida feel. It won’t happen. One of the best players the region ever produced and the physical presence of a center who helped forge the identity of future champions will walk the red carpet at Symphony Hall, and it will be an event at the far tip of the Eastern seaboard.

“I’m humbled and I’m truly honored to be able to stand here before you today and to know I’m going to be a part of such a prestigious group of individuals that helped pave the way for a lot of individuals to experience this,” Mourning said on the television broadcast of the announcement. “Again, I’m very, very grateful. I stand here on the shoulders of so many other people.”

The significance impossible to miss that so many other people from the Heat have stood on his shoulders while playing 10 and 1/2 of his 15 seasons in two stints with the Heat. The second Miami run was as part of the 2006 title team, which will become the starting place for this latest moment of Mourning helping to take the franchise to the future.

Dwyane Wade won that championship too, and he will be in the Hall. Same with Shaquille O’Neal, headed for 2017 induction after spending only 3 and 1/2 seasons along Biscayne Bay but as first-team All-NBA in two of them. Tim Hardaway, gone from Miami by then but forever linked to the Heat, was a finalist this year and could make Springfield one day.

And then there’s the current group, of course. LeBron James. Wade, from both generations of Heat. Ray Allen. Chris Bosh. It is possible to imagine going from zero players to seven with deep Miami ties being enshrined in a relatively short span of history, depending how long James plays, and eight counting Payton. Nine counting Riley, a 2008 inductee as coach.

Mourning will have been the guy who — typically — showed all the other players the way.

27 Comments

  1. A.J. says:

    Hey, Mourning groupie, how about learning to read. Howard-Cooper isn’t wrong, you are. That sentence about two of 17 seasons was about Gary Payton, not Mourning.

  2. A.J.. says:

    What am I “insinuating,” LinkDeville? I am insinuating there is a behemoth elephant in the room that no zoo can contain and no sportswriter in the country has the common sense and/or courage to call out.

  3. ZoHOF305 says:

    “he played just two of 17 seasons in Miami” – get your facts straight Scott.

    He played 11 seasons with the Heat.

  4. A.J. says:

    That’s not all he forgot to mention, Mike. If Mourning took some truth serum, what really caused the need for that kidney transplant?

  5. A.J. says:

    Dennis Rodman and Alonzo Mourning. The NBA’s very own Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. Who’s anybody kidding here.

  6. Chandler says:

    SO many Heat haters! Look at this dude stats and tell me again he is overrated, If Rodman gets in Zo deff gets in! #LetsGoHeat #FlamzUp #CongratsZo

  7. cliffiez says:

    Mourning was a crybaby and a prima dona and was really overrated and totally not a team player. When he was younger with the Hornets he started out okay. But then something happened and he was just this brutal jerk who blamed everyone, the refs, the opponents, the fans….. I remember once I was in Chicago and the cover photo of the sports section was Mourning with Rodman in a headlock….. I guess Rodman had gotten into his head and gotten him so frustrated he attacked him. Every team he was on wound up better once they got rid of him. I really disagree with this nomination. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the bad guy players. I think Bill Lambeer belongs in the hall. But Mourning? That’s a stretch. He was an overrated crybaby who was more than likely on roids and just wasn’t a great all around player or a leader.

    • LinkDeVille says:

      Let me try to understand what you are saying…
      So, putting the Worm in the headlock makes him less deserving? What about the Mailman. If he would have stooped, would he be less deserving as well? Education time: Team sports that require aggression breeds adjustments in the tempers of all. I actually like it when these guys could react like humans instead of robots. I am in no way saying they should be able to fight like hockey players, but sometimes things need to be handled. I was a fan, but Rodman needed his tail kicked every night. He just smelled too bad. Zo probably needed to take a bath in tomato juice afterwards.

  8. Toronto Raptors says:

    I remember when Zo was traded to the Toronto Raptors but did not even cross the border to play for his new team. Total disrespect and doesn’t deserve Hall of fame in my opinion.

    • LinkDeVille says:

      Hell, who does want to go to Toronto? Beautiful place to visit but c’mon man. When you are a superstar player, you can do that!

  9. marlon green says:

    Forget those people who are saying he is overrated! There are just negative people period! Congrats to ZO and it is well deserved. He was one of the best centers in the league and made history as soon a he joined the league by sending the Celtics home in the playoffs with that GW shot. This man was one of the best defenders in his era. He was fearless and tough. True he has been posterized by some players but those aren’t just average people. He didn’t care who it was MJ, Vince Carter, Shaq, Kemp, he was going to do his best and defend the rim like a true big man should. 11th all time on the blocks list with a shortend career.

  10. A.J. says:

    Lucky for Zo, steroid testing was nonexistent.

  11. Toro says:

    I was really happy for him, his comeback to the organisation. His minutes where crucial, bonding the D when Shaq was out. He was no bench warmer, as where the accusations before the recure. His ring was everything the Heat family needed to be content.

  12. J4CK Nicholson says:

    FYI, Zo is not a “pure” Heat. He played for the Hornets before traded to the Heat. But it’s true that he’s 1 of the best C/PF of all time.

  13. Truthsez says:

    tru3north, tru3north is overrated.

  14. Amas92 says:

    Very well said. Congrats Zo!

    • tem says:

      NBA champion (2006)
      7× NBA All-Star (1994–1997, 2000–2002)
      All-NBA First Team (1999)
      All-NBA Second Team (2000)
      2× NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1999–2000)
      2× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1999–2000)
      2× NBA blocks champion (1999-2000)
      NBA All-Rookie First Team (1993)
      J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (2002)
      No. 33 retired by Miami Heat
      Consensus first team All-American (1992)
      Consensus second team All-American (1990)
      Big East Conference Player of the Year (1992)
      Big East Tournament MVP (1992)
      USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (1990)
      McDonald’s All-American MVP (1988)
      Naismith Prep Player of the Year (1988)

      who’s overrated again?