My 10 Reasons for Cheering for Alonzo Mourning:
1. The 3-Ps: Zo is a model of patience, persistence and perseverance. After years of pursuing an NBA Finals Championship title, Zo earned his ring in 2006. I'm the biggest Dwyane Wade fan, but the sweetest part of that championship run was watching Zo get his ring. He never gave up and I learned a lot about goal-setting and determination from watching Zo take the court.
2. Shot-blocking machine: The American Airlines Arena rocked every time Zo zwatted away a shot. The Lesson: The best offense is a good defense and Zo is as good as it gets.
3. Yoga man: Alonzo Mourning prolonged and preserved his body through a daily routine that included yoga and vitamins. That commitment to physical and mental health apparently enhanced the passion and performance in Zo's game.
4. The Great Warrior: Dan Le Batard offers an excellent zalute to Zo in the Dec. 25 edition of the Miami Herald. In that piece, Dan called Zo "Miami's Greatest Warrior." With equal doses of grace and ferocity, Zo elevated the playing field on the basketball court.
5. Life after the kidney transplant: Not many transplant patients lead a full-court-press athletic life after surgery and very few, if any, have returned to play with the excellence and skill demonstrated by Zo: "Mourning always pushed his muscled body well beyond the limits of what was reasonable," Dan Le Batard wrote in the Miami Herald: "...it is the cold truth of time and sports that the body eventually and always pushes back. That is not a fight the athlete ever wins, but Mourning fought it with more will and stamina than just about anyone who has ever graced this section of the newspaper." That says it all.
6. Mr. Mentor: During the first home game of the 2005 East Conference Finals, the Detroit Pistons virtually shut down Dwyane Wade. After the game, Shaquille O'Neal and Zo paid a home visit to D-Wade to encourage the young ball player. That bit of mentoring worked and Wade rebounded to play much better in subsequent games. Likewise, Zo is involved in community mentoring programs.
7. Optimize Gifts: We all have different gifts. Some of us are photographers; some of us are excellent jazz musicians and some of us have a gift for teaching. Zo was blessed with a talent for basketball and a 6-10 frame to execute plays. But being born with either wealth, talent or looks is not enough. We all face a mandate to make the most of the talent, time and opportunities we have been given. Through discipline and hard work, Zo provided a model on making the most of our God-given talents.
8. Mr. Community Service: This summer with my oldest son, I attended Zo's Summer Groove in Downtown Miami. I was so impressed! It was a beautiful community service event that Alonzo Mourning offers every year. (The photo on the right is courtesy of the Miami Heat. Here is the caption: "Alonzo Mourning greets an Overtown resident during the HEAT’s 16th Annual Thanksgiving in Overtown celebration. The HEAT players, wives and front office handed out Thanksgiving dinners to approximately 600 underprivileged families.")
From ritzy golf tournaments to sports clinics for low-income kids, Zo is all over the court when it comes to giving. "He brings celebrities and sponsors and wealth to the abused, neglected and abandoned. He asks his powerful friends for help, time and money so that he can rescue those who don't have any power at all."--Dan Le Batard
9. Mr. Entertainment: I so loved watching Zo pump his fist and flex his bicep muscle after blocking a shot or making an old-school three-point play (the Zo-and-one!). He's just a joy to watch. His enthusiasm made me feel as if I too were on the bench waiting for my number to be called by Head Coach Pat Riley.
10. Defending the Title: Don't worry about dry run from last season or the felled knee in the current season; I will always, always be impressed with Zo's willingness to come back and return to defend the team's 2006 championship. It doesn't matter that the team was eliminated during the first round of playoffs in 2007. What matters is that Zo played with heart and provided a lasting lesson for kids, namely: It's really not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game. We are all winners if we play like Zo.
And because Alonzo Mourning provided that court-side lesson to my boys and other younger basketball fans, I'll always be grateful to Zo! We are all better people because he's been on the court.
Happy Holidays Zo !!! Hoya Saxa