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"It was almost like climbing a mountain, climbing Mount Everest" — Alonzo Mourning on winning a championship with the Miami Heat

For Zo, who spent years chasing a title for Miami way before Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal arrived, finally winning was more than just a historic moment
Nov 22, 1995; Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning blocks a shot against Golden State Warriors at the Miami Arena

Alonzo Mourning

Alonzo Mourning played most of his career in the NBA with the Heat. Needless to say, Miami will always have a special place in Zo’s heart as it was where he had his best moments, including the time he won a championship in 2006.

One for Miami

That 2006 NBA championship victory was rightfully monumental, as it was the first time the Heat won a title in franchise history. But for Zo, who spent years chasing it for Miami way before Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal arrived, it was more than just a historic moment.

In a special NBA 75 interview with The Athletic, Mourning recounted how fulfilling and magical it was to finally hold and raise the Larry O’Brien Championship trophy.

“Other than my kids being born, winning that title was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Mourning recalled. “It was almost like climbing a mountain, climbing Mount Everest, and then finally getting to the top and then just exhaling.”

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Nothing could stop Zo

Some may not know, but Mourning faced an array of daunting stumbling blocks throughout his life. He had a tough childhood, and he lived in a foster home. Basketball gave Zo a new lease on life, but as he reached NBA stardom, another obstacle came his way; this time, it was almost a fatal illness.

In 2002, Mourning was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease. Toughened by his past challenges, Zo managed to get back on his feet and swatted away death’s shot in the most crucial possession of his life.

After a short stint with the New Jersey Nets, Mourning made an emphatic return to Miami. In 2007, he incurred a career-ending injury. A stretcher was brought in to escort him off the court. But the fighter in Zo refused. Instead, he returned to his feet once again and walked tall in front of the crowd.

“That’s not the way I envisioned myself walking off the court for the last time in my career,” Mourning explained. “I’ve been through so much in my life. If I had to crawl off the court I would have. Nobody was going to push me off on a stretcher off the court. That wasn’t going to happen.”

If Zo could, he would’ve played another game for the Heat that season. However, he realized that his body could no longer keep up with the toughness of his heart and soul. Hence, Mourning was forced to call it quits. Nevertheless, Miami will always remember him as the toughest player the team ever had.

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