Dwyane Wade may be the Miami Heat‘s all-time leading scorer, but nobody in the history of the franchise embodies what the Heat are all about more than the franchise monolith, Alonzo Mourning.
Mourning was one of the most physical centers in the NBA in his day. He was — and in a lot of ways, still is — a modern day Bill Russell, a big man who didn’t care about getting touches but cared more about controlling the tempo of a game. And like Russell, how he did it was through defense.
You could say that the Heat’s evolution from a team that barely made the playoffs into a juggernaut contender began when then new coach and general manager Pat Riley made the trade with the Charlotte Hornets to bring Mourning to South Beach. Forget about LeBron James or Wade; Mourning was the player who put Miami on the map.
The only real knock on Mourning was that he never was able to win a championship in his prime. Sure, he finally won his coveted crown as a member of that memorable 2006 Heat team, but he was never able to lead the Heat to the promised land in the years where he was relevant.
But that should not be a dent on an otherwise brilliant career. What makes Mourning’s career even more amazing is that he was playing through a kidney disease. Mourning is the shining example of what Heat basketball is all about, and he should get the biggest standing ovation when he officially enshrined into the Hall of Fame.