Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thank You ZO

How do I make a proper send-off to one of the good guys in sports? It's so easy to write when a player has done something illegal or unethical. But I think it is necessary to give the right coverage to guys who's unsung works extend far beyond the courts. One of those guys is Miami Heat's Alonzo Mourning, who called it a career a few days ago.

Yes I could talk about Zo as the two-time defensive player of the year. The player who led the NBA a few years ago in blocked shots as a back-up. The man who's qualified to be a hall-of-famer in five years even after been sidelined by a rare kidney disease. And the man who exemplified passion in the critical game 6 which won the Miami Heat its first NBA championship.

But I'm more concerned about the man off the court. The only man apart from Dan Marino in South Florida who's made an indellible mark when it comes to charities. His annual "Zo Summer Groove" has raised millions for education, foster care, and recreation in the community. Or should I talk about his annual thanksgiving deliveries to economically disadvantaged families.

More importantly, I see a man who exemplified growth. As one sports writer said, "most improved person." Afterall, this was the guy who will live in YouTube infamy in the center (no pun intended about his position) of the Knicks and Heat rivalry in the late 90s to early 21st century. Who can forget Jeff Van Gundy (Knicks then coach) holding on Zo's legs while being dragged off the court.

But Zo has become the gentle giant off the court - he leaves his scowls, grunts, and bicep flexes on the court. Some say it might have to do with the life-altering disease. Anyway the growth came, I say it still had to be a personal decision.

So to Zo, thank you for everything. For making the Heat a contender after your trade and making us what the NBA used to call "the Road Warriors," showing yourself a leader by example through your hardwork and mentoring those who came after you. I look forward to more of your works off the court.

Tag: Alonzo Mourning's Retirement