Alonzo Mourning to enter Hall of Fame, thanks his coach


alonzo-mourning-hall-of-fameAlonzo Mourning’s hard work on the basketball court and his devotion to the game has paid off.

The 6-foot-10 center who won an NBA title with the Miami Heat was voted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Mourning was elected along with former NBA star Mitch Richmond and NCAA championship-winning coaches Nolan Richardson and Gary Williams.

The women’s team from Immaculata College, which won three straight national championships in the 1970s, also was chosen.

“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.”

They joined the previously announced class of 2014 that includes retired NBA Commissioner David Stern. The induction ceremony is Aug. 8 in Springfield, Mass.

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 said he was forever thankful to his Georgetown coach John Thompson, without whom, he wouldn’t have made it.

“It’s only fitting [he is here] really,” Mourning said. “It’s only fitting that he is here because I would not be standing on that stage without him. By far I would not be standing on that stage without his patience … the contributions he’s made … and his love for me.”

Mourning was also chosen to become a board member at his alma mater.

”I didn’t understand the prestige of this university, the global prestige of this university,” Mourning said. ”Never in my wildest dreams would I ever thought as a freshman that I would be sitting on the board of that university. Now I’m rubbing elbows with CEOs and billionaires and individuals that helped change this world.”

When Mourning was announced as a member of the 2014 class for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, 72-year old Thompson, himself a Hall of Famer (Class of 1999) watched with pride.

“All I did was play a game that I loved,” Mourning said. “That’s all I did.”

He told the local media how happy and grateful he is to be headed to the hall.

“[Monday] was an interesting day for me,” Mourning said. “I got a call from the President. President [Bill] Clinton reached out to me as well. Magic [Johnson] reached out to me and congratulated me. I got some amazing calls. It was an uplifting day. It really was.”

It should be noted that ExNBA carried out a traditional monthly poll in in 2013, the question of which was “Who of NBA centers you wouldn’t try to dunk on?”. 35 percent of voters chose Alonzo Mourning, over Shaq O’Neal, Shawn Bradley, Hakeem Olajuwon and Gheorghe Muresan.

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.

Thompson “was a large part in helping me understand that basketball was temporary,” Mourning said. “You are going to have to learn to strengthen your literary skills. You’re going to have to learn to survive outside the game of basketball because one day it will be over with.

“As my career developed, I knew for a fact that so many good things evolved through my level of intellect and my ability to communicate with other people and have relationships,” Mourning continued. “It all started at Georgetown. It really did. That intellectual process, stimulating it to the level I needed be as a person, it started at Georgetown University.

“And Big John was the person who enforced it.”

Mourning, 44, retired in 2009 and is now a vice president with the Miami Heat. He also runs Alonzo Mourning Charities Inc., which operates a series of organizations both in South Florida and nationally. They range from aiding the fight against kidney disease to assisting foster children.

He also raised the funds to build and operate the Overtown Youth Center, a remarkable, full-service facility to help underprivileged kids in the blighted Overtown neighborhood of Miami with special attention placed on education. His goal is to open more across the region.

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