Thursday, December 20, 2007
A Warrior's Final Stand
In The Warriors Code There's No Surrender,
Though His Body Cries Stop, His Spirit Cries, NEVER!
Last night a legacy and a warriors journey ended in a crumpled heap in Atlanta, Georgia. Alonzo Mourning's long journey could have ended two seasons ago when he was a major cog in the Miami Heat's first championship. The Warrior in him said no.... I need to try and defend what we earned. He was the catalyst for the title. The fire needed in all great teams. He was the firestarter. He was the last line of defense. He was many things in his career. From Charlotte to Miami to New Jersey to Toronto and back to Miami, Zo earned his stripes. Every night. Every Possession. There's not much more that could be said. In today's game, to find a player who plays all out every game may be reserved for only one other player, and he's from the same college alma matta. Zo was a beast. Hated. Beloved. Challenged. Beaten. Destroyer. Enforcer. Champion. All these words can describe him. None do him justice. The critics of his game hated his demonstrativeness, flexing, screaming, pointing to the sky like Hulk Hogan after a title match. This was his make-up. This was Zo. Love him or hate him, you had to respect him. He was the modern Bill Russell on the defensive end. He was the one person you didn't want to meet at the basket if you felt you had a shot to get a dunk on him. He was caught a bunch, but he caught WAY more than he took. Warrior. Who care's if you take a punch, you've got to take one to give two. Warriors don't fear pain, they relish it. They welcome the pain as just another way to push themselves. And he did that 10 fold in his career.
Every basketball fan knows Zo kidney battle. Would have ended lesser men's career's. The Warrior took it as the ultimate battle and......won. Somehow, he beat the odds. That's what all the great warriors of myth do. They overcome. They find a way. Through all obstacles. They come through in the worst situations. It was hurtful to the community of Miami at the time it occurred. They were losing their champion, the face of their franchise and the hero for their environment. If you never visited the Miami Arena in the early years of the Heat in Overtown, you were probably the better for it. A more rundown, decrepit area of the state of Florida was difficult to find. Zo knew this upon his arrival in Miami. And made it his crusade to try and fortify and revolutionize the area. Over his career in Miami, things began to change partly because of his charitable efforts, but more because of his indomitable will and refusal to surrender to suits and bureaucrats that made his goal to revitalize seem like an impossible task. Warrior. Warrior's want the impossible task. It's their life's calling. Tell me no, motherfu*ker, and I will show differently. This was Zo's way and Overtown began to change. By the time Zo returned for his second Heat stint, Overtown was now in full revitalization mode, and don't think for a minute that Zo's imprint wasn't all over the blueprints of the new highrises, rebuilt buildings and surrounding shops and clubs that made the area a place to be seen instead of being a place you wouldn't want to be caught dead in. The Warrior laid the ground work. He kept the fire burning and made an impact that will be felt for generations to come.
As a fan of his from his Hoya's days, and then in Charlotte where he made his bones to his Heat history, I can only say thank you. Thanks for your fearlessness. Thanks for the years of fire. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for being you. There's not enough of your kind left in the basketball world anymore. And it will be missed. The rest of this Heat season, regardless of record and even if they somehow can turn the ship around and right things, won't be the same. Those lowly Wednesday night games against teams like the Grizzlies just won't be the same without you patrolling, waiting and extinguishing. Maybe the boys will rally around your legacy and play hard for the rest of the season, every night, like's it's their last. It's doubtful that that type of intensity can be duplicated, though. But even if they do, it won't be the same without the granite block, the king of blocks, the Warrior. His last act as a basketball player? Going for a blocked shot. Then refusing to be carried off on a stretcher, walking away from the game he loved and the battlefield he navigated, through pain and regret. No tears, head up, fire still burning, hate for the injury that ended his run. RIP Warrior Mourning. Welcome home, Alonzo.