Former Heat star Alonzo Mourning reportedly headed to Hall
Former Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning appears on the verge of officially being named to the Hall of Fame
Several reports indicate former Heat star Alonzo Mourning (left) will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Tim Hardaway (right) fell short of induction for the second straight year.
Rhona Wise / Getty Images
By Charlie McCarthy
Alonzo Mourning visited the Miami Heat practice on Thursday, even calling together the team for a workout-ending huddle.
The players then swarmed the former center who's expected to become the franchise's first signature Hall of Fame player when the newest class is announced Monday at the Final Four in Dallas.
"He's in his tailored clothes that just got ruined, which was great. But it was great to see this generation of team show the respect for one of the pillars of our franchise," said coach Erik Spoelstra, who basically confirmed reports that Mourning would be among the newest members to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
"It's an awesome accomplishment for him. The entire organization was fired up for him. We all had chills about it."
Heat team president and former Los Angles Lakers and New York Knicks coach Pat Riley was inducted in 2008, and Gary Payton, who played two seasons with Miami, was a member of last year's Hall of Fame class.
Mourning played with Miami from 1995 until a kidney disease forced him to miss the 2002-03 season. After undergoing a kidney transplant, Mourning resumed his career and eventually rejoined the Heat in March, 2005. 'Zo remained with Miami until retiring after the 2007-08 season.
The Charlotte Hornets' second overall pick out of Georgetown in '92, Mourning was a defensive stalwart during his 15-year career. The 6-foot-10 center won two NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards and made seven All-Star teams. He averaged 17.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks.
"Who would have thought it from the first time when he went out with a kidney disease?" Spoelstra said. "And to see him come back and be able to earn the highest reward is awesome."
Chris Bosh used the same adjective to describe Mourning's appearance at practice.
"Being a first-ballot Hall of Famer, I mean, that's big-time," Bosh said. "He's hosting luncheons and stuff with the president, playing golf with every important person in Miami. And now he's a Hall of Famer.
"I think it's just a testament to the hard work he put into the game for so long and just what he continues to do in the community today. I think he can set a good example for a lot of basketball players out there to see what you can do after basketball."
News of Mourning's Hall of Fame induction began to leak out Wednesday night, when friends such as Dwyane Wade offered congratulations on Twitter.
Wade and Mourning were members of Miami's 2006 NBA championship team.
Fort Lauderdale product Mitch Richmond, who starred with the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, reportedly will join Mourning. Former Heat star Tim Hardaway, however, apparently fell short of induction for a second straight year.