The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame made official Monday what has been known for days: Alonzo Mourning will be among those inducted in the 2014 class, in a ceremony scheduled for August in Springfield, Mass.
Mourning becomes the second Heat player to be inducted into the Hall, joining Gary Payton.
“I’m humbled and I’m truly honored,” Mourning said. “I’m very, very grateful. ... If my life ended today, I’ve lived a storybook life.”
Mourning credited his family, Heat president Pat Riley and former Georgetown coach John Thompson, “who helped contribute so much to my life, not just as an athlete, but as a person. Big John taught me more about life than he did about basketball.”
Mourning said it “would only be fitting” if two people – presumably Riley and Thompson – are part of presenting him during his induction, adding it would be difficult to pick one over the other.
“You don’t play because you have intentions to go into the Hall of Fame,” Mourning said on a conference call Monday. “You play the game because you love it. I fell in love with basketball back in 1978. When I fell in love with the game, it became an extension of me.”
Mourning said “the one thing I’m most proud of” is returning from kidney disease and a transplant.
“I asked God if he would give me the strength to get back on the court,” he said. “There were a lot of people that doubted me and I had some deep doubt, too ... that I would be able to compete at a very high level.”
Mourning’s cousin Jason Cooper, who donated the kidney to Mourning, will be with him at the Hall induction, Mourning said. Cooper was one of the first people Mourning called when he got the news from the Hall of Fame last week.
“I told him I loved him,” Mourning said.
Mourning, who works as a Heat executive, was a seven-time All-Star and NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1999 and 2000. He ranks 10th in career blocks and played on the Heat’s 2006 NBA championship team.
“When I’m standing on that podium in August, it’s going to all flash before my eyes,” he said. “I’ve actually got a couple of bets with a couple of my boys that I won’t cry. This time, I’m going to win the bet, because I cried at my jersey retirement, and I didn't expect that to happen.”
The fact he was supremely intense and scowled on the court is something “sometimes people kind of took the wrong way. ... If I look back, would I change anything? I wouldn’t. Sometimes I had to corral my emotions because I was so passionate about the game. Guys kind of fed off of that. It fueled them to play that much harder. ... There is more to Alonzo Mourning than what they’ve seen on the court. My legacy off the court will overshadow the things I’ve done on the court.”
Other members of the 2014 class announced Monday: Former Fort Lauderdale Boyd Anderson guard Mitch Richmond and former college coaches Nolan Richardson and Gary Williams.