Aug 18

Unfinished Business-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli

Unfinished Business

Professional athletes are sometimes considered to be role models, because of the way they carry themselves on the field of play and off. Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning, who was enshrined on Friday, August 8, as a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014, certainly is a fine example of a role model. When a person overcomes adversity to realize not only a childhood dream, but a goal that he set during the rookie year of his NBA career, he is considered to be an inspiration.

In the year 2000, Alonzo Mourning was diagnosed with a rare, incurable, and sometimes fatal kidney disease called Focal Segmental Glomenulosclerosis. When asked about his reaction to the diagnosis at the Hall of Fame Press Conference on Thursday prior to his enshrinement, Mourning said, “You’re used to just taping an injury up or taking a pill for the pain, and playing with it, but this one caused me to take a step back and look at life.”

In 2003, Mourning underwent a kidney transplant; the kidney was donated by his second cousin Jason Cooper. The recovery process was long and arduous for Mourning, but he still had one goal in mind, that goal, was to win an NBA Championship. After being away from the game for the better part of five years, Morning signed with the Miami Heat. Addressing why he decided to come back, Mourning passionately said, “I set a goal to win an NBA Championship, so when doctors told me I could play again, that was the only thing on my mind.” This is the true meaning of a competitor, someone who is suffering from a potentially life-threatening disease, and all he was thinking about was, how to accomplish a goal he set at the beginning of his career.

In the 2006 NBA Finals, Mourning’s Heat took on the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas won the first two games of the best of seven series. Once again, Mourning and his teammates were facing odds that were against them. Only two other teams had ever come back to win the NBA Finals after losing the first two games, the 1969 Boston Celtics over the Los Angeles Lakers, and the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers over the Philadelphia 76ers.

On June 20, 2006, the Miami Heat became the third team to accomplish this feat, but accomplishing this feat wasn’t easy. In Game 6, the Miami Heat was down by 14 at halftime. Mourning, being the leader that he is, gathered his team in the locker room and said, “This is our Game 7, we cannot lose this game.” Mourning’s teammates responded to their leader’s passionate pep talk the Heat outscored the Mavericks by 17 in the second half and defeated the Mavericks 95-92 Mourning had done it. When recounting that night Mourning had a smile on his face that shined just as bright as the 2006 championship ring on his finger. “After all the blood, sweat, and tears that I went through, literally accomplishing what I set out to do was amazing. But I didn’t accomplish it alone I am the product of so many people.”

This is another situation that proves anything is possible if you work and believe in what you say and how you act. Alonzo Mourning had every reason to retire and forget about his dream of winning a championship, but in his own words, “I was not going to let kidney disease beat me”.

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