27 Aralık 2007

Mourning is a warrior to the end

Alonzo Mourning wasn't well liked in most NBA locales, certainly not here where his Nets' tenure was littered with empty promises due to health issues and constant complaining.

As unpopular as he was with the organization and fans, Mourning has played a significant role in Nets' history. His signing in 2003 helped keep Jason Kidd in New Jersey and his salary helped make the trade for Vince Carter work.

That said, Mourning always griping about Nets' management breaking up the team in the summer of 2004 soured what should have been a feel-good story. He returned from a kidney transplant and used every chance he could to say, "Get me out of here."

Four years to the day he had his transplant, Mourning, who declared this was his final season, suffered what in all likelihood was a career-ending knee injury in Atlanta. Some may say it was his karma, yet Dec. 19 was a sad day for basketball.

Mourning was a great center, one of the league's hardest workers, fiercest competitors and best defenders. He deserved a better sendoff, especially for all he did to come back from health problems – twice.

All along, we felt Mourning should have retired after Miami won the 2006 title. He would have left on top after defying the odds and inspiring others by not only playing but playing at such a high level that series and that season.

Instead Mourning stuck around and Dec. 19 happened.

Two things stand out about that night in Atlanta that summed up Mourning's career: He shattered his knee trying to block a shot and then refused to be wheeled off on a stretcher.

Four years to the day he underwent a kidney transplant, Mourning, with his teammates' help, hobbled off the court likely for the last time. He showed his warrior mentality to the very end.

In a bizarre way, maybe it was the right sendoff.

kaynak : NBA