THE GREATEST GIFT
The best Christmas gift Alonzo Mourning has ever received was never wrapped, is about six inches in diameter, was quite possibly carefully rushed from a living donor in one operating room to another that was right next to it and was inserted into a six-inch incision on the right side of his abdomen.
On Friday, Mourning, one of the healthiest looking NBA players you will ever see, underwent a successful kidney transplant surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. Mourning received the kidney from a relative, therefore, he did not need to go on the national donors' list.
"Alonzo asks that all those who offered to donate a kidney to him extend that generosity to others who are waiting for transplants," his agent, Jeffrey Wechsler, said.
"He appreciates all the well wishes and encouragement he has received from fans all around the world, and asks that the public respect his privacy during the recovery process."
Greg Perrin, director of marketing and development for the Kidney & Urology Foundation of America, Inc., said that Zo has put a public face on a prevalent problem and the foundation has received numerous calls from people willing to donate.
"To a person, they have all said I would donate a kidney, I'll be tested, if I'm a match, I'll help him but if I could help somebody else," Perrin said. "Because of what he did and the way he did it and when he stood up and said, 'I have to retire, I have kidney disease,' and then spoke eloquently about his disease and what he was up against.
"It just let this floodgate open and now there's this national dialogue that has never occurred before."
Mourning had one of the rarer forms of kidney disease -- focal segmental glomerulosclerosis or FSGS. It is more prevalent in African-Americans. It's just one form of kidney disease and according to Perrin it is estimated that nearly 50 million Americans have some form of kidney disease. Zo's life has changed.
"Patients differ, but convalescence is usually five to eight days and there is a one month shut-down period where your body adjusts to the new kidney," Perrin said. "There's no other way to portray it, but it really is a lifelong relationship with your doctor, your nephrologist and your medical team from this day forward particularly with FSGS, which has a high re-occurrence."
As far as how long Mourning can live with his new kidney, that also differs.
"Currently a kidney from a deceased person has a lifespan of about 10 years and from a living donor upwards of 22. That's not finite though, because we've had people -- there are 67,000 people in this country walking around with kidney transplants and some who have had them as long as 20 years and there are numbers of them who have had them for longer.
"I heard from a gentleman, who had a kidney transplant, the other day who wanted to send well wishes to Alonzo Mourning, who's had his kidney for 30 years."
For Perrin and the foundation, Mourning has already made the impact of a lifetime.
"When he returned to the NBA this year, we issued a statement," Perrin said, "and it was important to do so because of the nature of this disease and because people don't talk about it, to note that he's a hero and he's an inspiration."
Perrin said Mourning even offered inspiration in retiring.
"He has fought diligently. And he should be commended that he made it back. And when he announced his retirement, people called us and asked if it was a failure. Absolutely not. It's still a success story, because whether he played 12 games or 1,200 games, in battling a disease that could be debilitating to some and which reduces stamina, he was still successful for some period of time, to live the life he chose.
"This is what the goal of medicine is, it's not rhetoric, it's what we believe."
If you are interested in being tested or donating, you can contact the Kidney & Urology Foundation through their website or their toll-free number: 1-800-633-6628.
HE'S A MEAN ONE
Ah, everyone wants to be home and away from work during the holidays. Except Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
-- San Antonio Express-News
"We finally get the time off," Popovich told the Express News, "and it's the last thing we need."
If any team deserves it, the Spurs do. They've played 29 games, the most in the NBA. They've played 15 games on the road, the most in the Western Conference. And they're playing their best ball of the season, winning 10 in a row. So, why the coal in the stocking, Coach Popo-Grinch?
"We need to keep playing and have that flow," Popovich told the Express News. "You can't control it, but it would have been better for us to have the time off at the beginning of the year.
"For us, it was awful playing that many games that early. We weren't ready for that. We weren't ready for the teams we were playing that early, not with a brand-new team. And not with Tim (Duncan) and Tony (Parker) being out for those games."
Yes, you must keep the edge you've begun to develop. Still, the Spurs players are looking forward to being home for the holidays.
"It's going to be nice not (packing) bags," Manu Ginobili told the Express News. "Or going to all the hotels in the country."
RIDE THE WADE
LeBron James has made every magazine cover this side of Pro Farmer (don't miss "Chore Time" with Chip Flory). Carmelo Anthony has been on national TV a couple times. Even Toronto's Chris Bosh received a three-page write up in Sports Illustrated.
But last week, no rookie was hotter than the Heat's Dwyane Wade.
In a span of seven days (from Dec. 14-21), Wade has scored 131 points (26.2 ppg), went 50-for-90 from the floor (.555) and dished 5.2 assists per game. And if you think Wade's performance in those last five games is a fluke, well, check this out. Wade is 85 for 155 from the field in the Heat's 10 December games.
"He's a joy and a pleasure to play with and to watch," Heat teammate Lamar Odom told the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
Wade, however, sometimes feels caught between the roles of scorer and passer.
Last week, he seemed to fill both of them well.
For more info on this incredible -- and we do mean incredible -- rookie class, check out the latest got milk? Rookie Rankings.
One of the more indestructible players in NBA history looked destructable on Sunday. The Lakers' Karl Malone, who has more played more seasons (19) than he has missed games (14), suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of the Lakers 107-101 win against Phoenix on Sunday.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Malone and Suns forward Scott Williams who landed on Malone, heard a "pop."
"When I landed on him, I heard a distinct pop," Williams told the Times. "I didn't know where it came from. I didn't know if it was his shoe, his knee, or ankle, or what, but I heard a distinct pop. I felt real bad that it happened."
Malone is schedule to have an MRI exam on Monday.
Even more on the retro jersey craze. By the way, check out how much DeShawn Stevenson has dropped on retros.
-- Deseret News
Where the heck did he come Frahm?
Want to beat the Pacers? Switch to a zone.
The stress of the holidays, and now this.
How did the Nets spend their summer vacation? Playing games and tiring themselves out, supposedly.
HOLIDAY CHEER MAIL CALL
Ah, the holidays. Other than spending time with your family, gettin' stuff is one of the best things about this time of year. We asked you what you'd most want to receive. Here are your answers. The first one is my favorite.
"You mean ANY basketball related item? The original basket (with the original basketball) that was made by Dr. Naismith. Other than that the total trophy case of Michael Jordan."
Click and Roll says: Zoltan, the original peach baskets, hung from a balcony, 10 feet from the floor in a Springfield, Mass. YMCA, could be hoops' holy grail when it comes to artifacts. Excellent selection, though I would think those baskets were discarded long ago. The basket in the middle here is the half bushel type used in the first "Basket Ball" game. (And why is it a peach basket? Do they have peaches in Massachusetts? It looks like they do. As for the original basketball, well, it was a soccer ball.
"Why in the world would anybody ask for anything other than a Garnett or Sprewell black Timberwolves road uni? They are the best looking jerseys in the league. You can't beat the pine trees around the neck and arms!"
Click and Roll says: Pine trees on the neck and arms? Sounds sticky.
"There's no better gift than an old Jud Buechler Bulls jersey. I'd put a Kordell Stewart Bears jersey second, because it's about to become a collector's item."
Click and Roll says: What, no Jud Buechler Pistons jersey?
"I'm not asking, but if you were gonna do the Christmas shopping for my wife, I know where you could point and click. (http://www.onlinesports.com/images/mn-jaz77h-7.jpg). This was the "Pistol" at his finest. Great jersey! It would make me feel like I could score 31-plus per game. But just in case your running under that Click and Roll budget here at the end of the year, shoot me a note and I'll give you the shipping address."
Click and Roll says: You have great taste, but you confuse me with someone who has a budget.
"I want to know if you have the authentic jersey, Jalen Rose, No. 5 in Toronto Raptors in the store at Fifth Avenue in New York."
"Hmm? Anything basketball related? Personal lessons from Tracy McGrady! Whoo! Go T-Mac!"
Click and Roll says: Can T-Mac fit under a Christmas tree?
"I saw this one jersey on eBay. It was like a 1975 Marquette jersey. It looked so nice. That is what basketball related gift I would ask for."
Click and Roll says: Zach, I'm giving you play here because I grew up in Milwaukee. The one you're thinking of is Butch Lee's No. 15 from the 1977 NCAA championship team. Don't wear it in Louisville, though. Cardinals fans will probably pummel you.
And finally …
"Well, I would hope that someone would give me the Laker girls for Christmas. Hey I can dream can't I?"
Click and Roll says: Whatever happened to visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads? Kids these days.
With that, Click and Roll wishes you Happy Holidays.