Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Alonzo Mourning Is Not Walking Through That Door

Neither is Tim Hardaway.

Some days the Heat could really use one or both of those guys. The team has a 14 year-old and a rookie splitting time at point guard. A three-headed monster at center that would make any of the center combos on Jordan's Bulls teams look like the Dream Team. Yet here Miami stands at the midway point, within reach of home court in the playoffs.

And they owe it all to the guy who isn't walking through the door. At Zo's retirement press conference, Riley called him "the tap root" of the culture that they wanted to set up with the organization. This team is everything that Mourning was: Resilient. Tough. Able to compensate for lack of size by being aggressive. Hard Working. And most importantly, Winning.

Mourning turned a team that was nothing into a perennial Eastern Conference power. Sure, Riley has had something to do with it, and now the addition of Dwayne Wade. But they are clearly not riding the legacy of Rony Seikaly or Grant Long, Harold Minor or Glen Rice. It was Mourning as Shaq's back-up who put them over the top in their title run, not Bennett Salvatore.

Mourning also had some bad timing. The most ironic being tearing his patella tendon and quadriceps on the anniversary of his kidney transplant. Everyone thought that December 19th would be the end of his career. Who would have guessed it would be 4 years after getting a new kidney?

The addition of Zo to this year's Heat would no doubt make the rag-tag group the toughest out in the playoffs this year. Instead, they will carry on without him, knowing that the future is getting brighter every step of the way.

And we all know LeBron and the rest of his 2010 buddies want to put on the same jersey that Zo wore.

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