COURTSIDE STORIES: Alonzo Mourning’s battles with Shaquille O’Neal


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Former NBA superstar Alonzo Mourning lived through his share of tough battles on the basketball court. One of his toughest rivals was none other than Shaquille O’Neal. Both talented big men entered the NBA in 1992.

There were those who didn’t want to go head to head with O’Neal, and there were also those, who were terrified seeing Mourning on the court. Both men left their marks in the history of the NBA.

But how did they battle against one another? Years later, after his retirement, Alonzo Mourning recalled the history between the two.

Back in July 0f 2017, Mourning spoke to SportsIllustrated about his career, and about his battles with Shaq.

“He was bigger than me. [Laughs] He knew how to use his weight, leaning on you the whole game. It wore on you. He brought out the best in me. He truly did. The competitors that we were, we really fought each other and made each other better,” Mourning recalled.

Mourning and O’Neal went head to head reguarly during their prime, and following O’Neal’s arrival to Miami, Mourning joined forces with this long-time rival.

” It was an amazing experience, simply because it wasn’t about anything but winning. That’s what it was all about. We had reached a point in our careers—he had three championships at that time—my motivation was to get there. He had verbally made a commitment to the city of Miami to bring home a championship. He knew deep down inside he couldn’t do it by himself. He surrounded himself with hungry players, battle-scarred players who had been in the league nine, 10, 12 years. We were all thirsty for the pinnacle of our sport. We kind of seized the moment together and that made it more fulfilling,” said Mourning.

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The former 7-time All-Star also remembers how the two went head to head during practice games.

“They were all-out wars. They were. It was also pretty comical at times. He didn’t want me to outdo him and I didn’t want him to outdo me. We were always on opposite teams. I was red, he was white. We had some wars in practice but it was fun. Again, he brought out the best in me. I did everything I could to stay prepared,” says Mourning.

“There were times in practice he would tell me to slow down because I was working too hard in drills. I’d look over my shoulder and say, “Listen man, I don’t want to hear that right now because when you get in foul trouble I’m the one that has to come in the game.” We had some experiences but we uplifted each other with our play,” he said.

In the end, it worked out well for everyone. O’Neal and Mourning helped the Miami Heat to with the 2005-2006 NBA Title. This was O’Neal’s fourth, Mourning’s first.

Overall, Mourning spent his 15 seasons in the NBA playing for Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat and New Jersey Nets.

He appeared in 838 games (686 started), averaging 17.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.8 bpg in 31 minutes of playing time. A 7-time All-Star and 2-time defensive player of the year, Mourning is in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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