wants to come back but itís not up to him. Itís up to his right knee, the same knee in which he tore a patellar tendon against the Atlanta Hawks on December 19, 2007, his last NBA regular-season game. Visiting the NBA Store in New York City today where he was promoting his just released autobiography, Resilience: Faith, Focus, Triumph
(Ballatine Books), Mourning opens up and talks with NBA.comís John Hareas about his inspiration (Lance Armstrong), the prospects for the Heat this season, mentoring rookie Michael Beasley and leaving the game on his terms.
NBA.com: You have been quoted saying that Lance Armstrong inspired you to write book this book. Did you know Lance before starting this project?
Alonzo Mourning: Oh yeah. We had spoken to each other countless times. I told him how much he meant to so many people in general. His resiliency and the way he bounced back and overcame that particular obstacle in his life was truly inspiring.
When I was rehabbing post transplant, I knew that the opportunity was there for me, it was just within. I had to develop the mentality and stay positive about making my comeback.
His overall story is truly inspiring, especially in reading his memoir and understanding the challenge that he faced. It was so similar to what I had to go through when it came to different challenges and everything, doubts that I may have had, and possibly getting back out there and doing it again.
I am happy and very fortunate to know Lance. At the same time, it just puts more emphasis on the power that we have within. I think each and every one of us has that resiliency inside of us. Itís just a matter of tapping into it.
Through the words in my memoir I want to encourage people and remind people of the resilience that they have in overcoming different adversities in their lives.
NBA.com: What was most challenging aspect of this project?
Alonzo Mourning: Just getting it right. I didnít want it to be too lengthy, but at the same time I wanted it to be very impactful, a very impactful read -- itís 231 pages. I think I got all of the information that I wanted in there about my life. I donít think I left any stone unturned because I wanted people to see a different side, a different perspective of Alonzo Mourning other than what theyíve seen on the court. They see this fierce competitor, they see the scowl, they see the intensity, but they donít realize some of the experiences Iíve had in my life that connect with so many other people, regular people working 9 to 5. They donít understand that I went through some of the same problems that millions of Americans have gone through.
NBA.com: How difficult is it for you to not be in training camp at this time of year?
Alonzo Mourning: Itís very difficult but life is about change and how you adapt to it. I am reaching a point in my life where the basketball chapter in my life is slowly closing from a competition standpoint. Iíve got to make some decisions just like any other player that has ever played this game, that eventually the clock stops, their basketball clock stops. Youíve got to move on in your life and youíve got to make some other decisions. So for the most part, I am getting ready for that next chapter. Just like the book has many chapters, another chapter will open for me. Iím excited about what the future will bring and I think the best is yet to come.
NBA.com: What is the status of your right knee?
Alonzo Mourning: On a scale of 1 to 10 itís probably at a 5 Ĺ or 6 and Iím a month ahead of schedule. Iím progressing extremely well and all I have to do is just stay the course as far as rehabilitation and strengthening and just hope for the best. If itís meant for me to play again, then so be it, Iím gonna get back out there and play again. But I do want to go out, I want to play the game of basketball again, and I want to end my career off on the right note. My last vision of me being on the basketball court is somebody carrying me off and thatís not how I envision the end of my career. If the opportunity presents itself for me to get out there and to contribute to a team that is going into the playoffs and needs some veteran leadership and that push, then I want to be able to do that. Iím hoping that itís with the Miami Heat. That is way too far down the line for me right now. I just have to focus on getting 100 percent.
NBA.com: Whether youíre able to come back or not, what is the prognosis for the Heat this season?
Alonzo Mourning: I really feel that the sky is the limit for this team. With a healthy D-Wade for the whole season he can definitely take this team to new heights. Weíve got to see how these young players blossom. I think the leadership of Erik Spoelstra, understanding that he doesnít have the experience of Pat Riley, but heís worked 14 years under Pat Rileyís tutelage. So I think heís learned from the best from that perspective. I think he can carry it over and help him fall into a comfort level when it comes to coaching. Iím excited about what Erik is capable of doing because heís a student of the game and I think the young players are going to respond extremely well to his leadership.
NBA.com: What do you see when you analyze Michael Beasleyís game?
Alonzo Mourning: I see a very versatile raw talent and he will determine his success. I told him that there are no shortcuts to success. I told him that I played against the best, I played with the best, and I asked him what he wanted to be. I asked him, ďWhere do you see Michael Beasley in 10 years?Ē He said, ďI see myself as being the best in the league.Ē So I said, ďYou know what, there is a protocol, there is a formula that you have to follow and Iím going to tell you about it.Ē He was all ears. I just hope it all digested and that he follows suit. But Iím going to stay on him because I see nothing but the best in him. I see a Derrick Coleman, I see a Larry Johnson, I see a Carlos Boozer. I see those skills. Itís just a matter of him working on his game and doing everything possible to develop all of that.
NBA.com: How much of Lance Armstrongís recent comeback talk of racing in Australia in January inspires you to come back to the NBA?
Alonzo Mourning: Life is too short, to tell you the truth. Follow your dreams. Without a dream, it can never be a dream come true. That is what I tell kids. Continue to follow your dreams. If you want to be an astronaut, shoot for the stars, man. That is the only way youíre going to get there. Follow your dreams. Continue to work at it. Donít let anybody tell you that you canít do it because I had those individuals telling me that I couldnít come back from this kidney transplant and I did it. I came back and won an NBA championship and I think I played a significant role in that.
Iím excited for Lance. He and I spoke. He told me about his comeback and Iím happy for him because he has inspired so many people with his actions and I know that heíll continue to do that with his efforts out there. And heís happy. Do whatever makes you happy because life can change immediately. He knows that and I know that.
NBA.com: Outside of your knee, how is your overall health?
Alonzo Mourning: My health is great. Thank God.
NBA.com: Is Pat Riley retired for good from coaching?
Alonzo Mourning: I think so.
NBA.com: Whatís the next chapter for Alonzo Mourning away from basketball?
Alonzo Mourning: I have a lot of different options. I donít know what that next chapter is going to bring, but Iím going to keep things open. I can continue my career in basketball in some type of capacity. I can do broadcasting. Iím definitely going to continue my philanthropic work because itís very much needed, especially in South Florida, providing educational opportunities for kids. Obviously, Iím a father myself. And I told my wife that in 11 years I want to play on the senior tour in golf, so Iíve been working on my golf, working on my swing quite a bit.