Retiring: Zo, 7-time all-star, says career is over
MIAMI ó The last question at Alonzo Mourning’s retirement news conference came from the front row.
“So, Alonzo,” said his wife, Tracy, “what are you going to do with all of this spare time you have?”
“Sweetheart, I think we’ve already talked about that,” Mourning said with a smile.
“I want it on record,” Tracy said.
“Well, I’ll wash the dishes and take out the trash and clean the windows,” Mourning said. “Whatever you want me to do, dear.”
So it’s official: Mourning’s calling it quits. He’ll do chores and play with his two kids and work on his golf game and promote his charitable causes. But after 15 seasons and countless career comebacks, he’s done chasing championships.
The seven-time All-Star center said Thursday he won’t return from a devastating leg injury Dec. 19, 2007 ó the fourth anniversary of his lifesaving kidney transplant. He had been working out at the Miami Heat complex and said he’s running and jumping again, but he feared another leg injury if he returned.
Helping to cement the decision was Mourning’s trip to Washington this week to attend President Obama’s inauguration.
“People would come up to me and they would ask me, ‘How are you doing? How is your health?’ ” Mourning said. “It kind of struck a chord. I knew that’s what it’s all about ó my health. … God willing I’ll be able to live another 40 or 50 years.”
Mourning, who turns 39 next month, played at Georgetown and was the second overall pick in the 1992 draft by the Charlotte Hornets. He also played for New Jersey but spent the majority of his career with the Heat, helping them reach the playoffs six consecutive years. He was the backup center to Shaquille O’Neal when Miami won the NBA title in 2006.
If he didn’t have a championship ring, Mourning said, he might keep playing.
“When you’ve got something you love and you’re passionate about, it’s hard to let that go,” Mourning said. “But at 38 I feel I’ve physically done all I can for this game. It has been an amazing ride.”
Mourning was diagnosed in October 2000 with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a career-threatening kidney disease. He missed most of the ensuing season but rejoined the Heat in March 2001 and made the All-Star team the following year.
When his condition worsened, he missed the entire 2002-03 season and underwent a transplant in 2003. Again he returned, but for three consecutive summers beginning in 2005, Mourning considered retirement.
He hasn’t played since tearing the patella tendon and quadriceps muscle in his right leg 13 months ago.