Mourning, Alonzo

▪ 2007
 On June 20, 2006, 2.08-m (6-ft 10-in) forward/centre Alonzo Mourning provided a dramatic assist for the Miami Heat in game six of the best-of-seven National Basketball Association (NBA) finals, contributing eight points, six rebounds and five blocked shots in 14 minutes. His efforts helped the Heat defeat the Dallas Mavericks 95–92 and give Miami its first championship in the 18 seasons of the franchise's existence. Mourning, age 36, was playing because of an even more dramatic assist from Jason Cooper, a cousin and former U.S. Marine he had not seen in 25 years, who had donated his left kidney to the basketball star on Dec. 19, 2003. The surgery left Mourning with three kidneys—the two that failed and the transplant that was placed in the lower part of his abdomen by his surgeon. Although there was some concern that he had received preferential treatment owing to his celebrity, the NBA star's donation came from a family member and thus did not affect the status of others awaiting a kidney transplant.

      Mourning was born on Feb. 8, 1970, in Chesapeake, Va. He attended Indian River High in his hometown and played at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. As the number two overall pick in the 1992 draft by the then Charlotte Hornets, he spent three seasons with them before being traded to the Heat, where he stayed for the next seven seasons. A seven-time NBA All-Star, he was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 1999 and 2000 and was named first team All-League in 1999. He won gold medals with the U.S. team at the 1994 world championships and the 2000 Olympic Games. Shortly after the Olympics, he was diagnosed with focal glomerulosclerosis, a disease that affects the filtering process of the kidneys. Even though Mourning played in the NBA All-Star Game in 2002, he sat out the 2002–03 season. As a free agent, he signed a four-year contract with the New Jersey Nets in 2003 but was forced to retire on November 25 because of his kidney problems. After recovering from the transplant surgery, he returned to the Nets in 2004–05 and was subsequently traded to the Toronto Raptors, but he refused to report. After a buyout that again allowed him to become a free agent, he re-signed with the Heat on March 1, 2005. Playing limited minutes, he finished number three for the 2005–06 season among shot blockers in the league, averaging 2.66 per game.

      In August 2006 the NBA honoured Mourning with its Community Assist Award for his many philanthropic activities, which over a 10-year period had raised more than $6 million for various charities, notably kidney research.

Phil Jasner

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▪ American athlete
in full  Alonzo Harding Mourning, Jr. , byname  Zo 
born Feb. 8, 1970, Chesapeake, Va., U.S.
 
 American professional basketball player who was notable for recovering from a kidney transplant to win a National Basketball Association (NBA) championship with the Miami Heat in 2006.

      Mourning—a centre 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 metres) tall—played collegiate basketball at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C. He was the second overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets, and he spent three seasons with the team before being traded to the Heat. A seven-time NBA All-Star, he was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 1999 and 2000 and earned first team All-NBA honours in 1999. He won gold medals with the U.S. team at the 1994 world championships and at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

      Shortly after the Olympics, he was diagnosed with focal glomerulosclerosis, a disease that affects the filtering process of the kidneys. Mourning played in only 13 games the following season but recovered to make the NBA Eastern Conference All-Star Team in 2002. His condition worsened, however, and he sat out the 2002–03 season. As a free agent, he signed a four-year contract with the New Jersey Nets in 2003 but was forced to retire in November because of his kidney problems. He received a kidney from his cousin in December and began working toward an NBA comeback soon thereafter.

      Mourning returned to the Nets for the 2004–05 season and was subsequently traded to the Toronto Raptors, but he refused to report to the team. After a buyout that again allowed him to become a free agent, he re-signed with the Heat in March 2005. He played limited minutes in his second stint with the Heat but was a valuable reserve as Miami advanced to the 2006 NBA finals. Mourning had his best game of the play-offs in the Heat's decisive game-six victory over the Dallas Mavericks, which gave Miami its first championship in franchise history. In December 2007 Mourning suffered a severe knee injury, which forced him to miss the remainder of the 2007–08 season. He retired from the NBA in January 2009.

Phil Jasner
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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