Former NBA star Alonzo Mourning believes that the LeBron James-led Miami Heat team wasn’t great simply because of LeBron.
“We had a great team for four years straight, and the reason why we had a great team was not just because we had the best player on the planet, it’s because we had the best team that bought into a culture,” Mourning told SLAM in an interview.
Speaking about how the Heat takes care of its players, Mourning, who played 11 seasons with the team, said that it’s the culture.
“That’s a Pat Riley thing. I think that’s the only way to do it, it really is. I think if you’re gonna be a consistent organization, you’ve gotta take care of your own people,” he said. “Every year, you can’t have turnover. First of all, Spo knows the culture—it’s just a matter of getting the guys to come in and buy into it.”
“Everybody bought into this culture,” Mourning said. “After going to the Finals four years like that, I find it very difficult for individuals like we had to stop buying into the culture that got you four straight NBA Finals appearances.”
“How do you stop buying into that? If you got there four years in a row, why not get back there four more times? And then four more times? Why not get back there 10 years in a row? It’s doable.”
Hall of Famer Mourning also spoke on LeBron James, who left the Heat and returned to Cleveland.
“That’s the question. Why walk away from a dynasty when you have to go somewhere and rebuild, basically,” Mourning said.
He said it was possible that James had different priorities, which resulted in him leaving the Heat.
Mourning was a seven-time NBA All-Star and two-time defensive player of the year who was among the league’s best shot-blockers.
Mourning averaged NBA’s best 3.9 and 3.7 blocks per game in 1998-99 and 99-00 seasons. Mourning averaged over 3.5 blocks per game in four NBA seasons. He holds career average of 2.8 blocks per game.
He played in 838 games (686 started), averaging 17.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.8 bpg in 31 minutes of playing time in the NBA. He was named a defensive player of the year 2 times, an All-Star 7 times, and won a championship with the Miami Heat in 2006.
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