Heart. It’s what the Miami Heat have been missing the last few years. They had the ability to pull out close games due to sheer talent, but the will and determination to go out, play hard and hustle every night was rarely ever there.
Long before Alonzo Mourning was swinging at his former Charlotte Hornets teammate Larry Johnson, or scowling at various members of the New York Knicks, he was an 11-year-old boy displaying what the league would come to learn as the ferocity that manifested from having to force himself into the foster care of Fannie Ella Reid Threet in order to avoid dysfunction at home.
To an equal extent, his warrior mentality was built from the fear of losing a career that his Georgetown coach John Thompson saved, as Mourning was putting his future on the line by hanging out with a well-known, not-so law abiding citizen (see the Rayful Edmond story).
That spirit was also a product of Mourning not being willing to take a moment for granted after nearly losing his life to a deadly kidney condition. That is a reason why he sits next to Riley in the stands with the intensity of a man who wishes he could snatch his No. 33 jersey out of the rafters and suit up for crucial moments — so that one of his mentors would be spared any potential disappointment.
Coach Riley, coach Thompson and Miss Threet were the right people at the right time for Mourning. And if she did not pass on October 13, 2013, she would surely have been sitting in the front row on Friday, watching Zo stand on stage with his former coaches as he is enshrined for the world to see.
It’s a story that will end with the undersized center becoming the first Heat star to be named into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Now who can’t love that?