During his Hall of Fame career, Alonzo Mourning was a force to be reckoned with, dominating both ends of the floor. He did not light up the stat sheet in points, even dough he was an absolute force in the paint.
Dominant centers were a must
Having a dominant center was the cornerstone and a crucial part of most NBA franchises back in the day, and Mourning was the Miami Heat heart and soul during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
In those years, the rivalry between the New York Knicks and Miami Heat gave us unforgettable matchups. Dueling with his fellow Hoya alumni and great friend Patrick Ewing is something Zo likes to talk about. In his own words, when interviewed with The Post Game, Alonzo said their approach to the game came from the sheer will to win. Their mentality was way different than the one players have in the NBA today. For multiple playoff matchups and numerous regular-season games, Mourning showcased that mentality.
"I'm out here to take your head off. You're in my way right now. It was the mentality everybody had. There were constant wars and rivalries between teams.
Great rivalries in the '90s
In the late 90s, we had great battles in the east: Indiana-Chicago, Knicks-Pacers, Heat-Knicks. The list is full of teams with a bully-type mentality when playing basketball. They loved to drain their opponents physically and mentally, which was part of the coaching strategy, while fights were the occasional icing on the cake. Who can forget the 1998 playoff brawl, with Knicks coach Jeff van Gundy in the middle of it trying to save the players and himself from getting into a physical confrontation?
During those years, Mourning was often compared to the legendary Bill Russell. He always said that was an ultimate honor for him. His warrior mentality and intense style of play made him one of the poster boy centers of that era. He crowned his career with the 2006 championship with the Miami Heat, but we think he loves to reminiscence more about the battles with his adversaries from New York.