Alonzo Mourning was Miami’s very own version of Karl Malone and Shaquille O’Neal. Heat’s #33 never backed down against anyone.
Although the 6’10 big man just played the centre position throughout his 16-year NBA career, he was a pure mixture of an athletic forward with the frame of a big man.
The 7-time all-star was the driving force behind 7 of Orlando Magic and Heat’s playoffs years in the 90s. And even though those teams didn’t make much noise in the Playoffs apart from a season or two, Mourning was the man who, under Pat Riley‘s guidance, established the most successful teams out of the ones created under the NBA’s 1988 expansion.
Alonzo Mourning 🤚🏾🏀
-2x block leader
— The Ballfather (@StevenKelsey13) December 11, 2018
Alonzo led Miami to a 61-21 season in 1997, which was their best in the history for 16 more years. The team that had the worst start by any franchise in the 1988-89 season became a consistent Playoffs team as soon as they got their big man in 1995.
He was the most formidable rival for the Big Diesel to get past in the East. There are plenty of clips of Shaq talking about his rivalry with Mourning comparing it to Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. The 2x DPOY might have played a small part in his franchise winning its first-ever Championship in 2006, but he was still the strongest pillar of that team.
An older Alonzo Mourning wasn’t going down against LeBron James and Anderson Varejao, and neither was the dynamic D-Wade
The Heat didn’t win a conference title until 2006, the very year they won the Championship as well. It was arguably the best season of the franchise’s history, not just because of the fact that it was their first title but because it happened against every odd.
Led by Dwyane Wade and a little older and slower O’Neal and an even older Mourning, who was just playing a small role in the team, they won against some of the toughest teams of that decade when nobody believed in them.
Their road to the championship was filled with some of the best moments of their franchise history. One of those was a match against the LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in March of ‘06. The game was as physical as it gets, with Cavs’ Anderson Varejao going full force against Mourning on every other possession.
When the then 36-year-old had enough of the 24-year-old Brazilian, he made him test the floor’s strength while wildly swinging those huge elbows.
— NBA_Highlights (@rNBA_Highlights) June 27, 2022
LeBron watching his teammate going through that beating, tried taking instant revenge on Mourning in the next possession and attempted his monstrous signature dunk on the old man. He missed out on what could have been another highlight poster of his career by a centimetre and saw Wade trying to do it on him on the other end and fail as well.
That 98-92 win and the following post-season are some of the most incredible memories for the core Heat Nation despite many more successful seasons, highlights, and posters that involved LeBron-Wade in the Miami uniform.