Alonzo Harding Mourning, Jr. was born February 8, 1970.
While in high school in Virginia, he led his team to 51 straight victories and a state title his junior year (1987). As a senior he averaged 25 points, 15 rebounds and 12 blocked shots a game. He was named Player of the Year by USA Today, Parade, Gatorade, and Naismith.
Mourning would go on to follow the great Patrick Ewing by playing center at Georgetown University, where he led the nation in blocked shots his freshman year and was an All-American his last year there.
The Charlotte Hornets would select Mourning as the second overall in the 1992 NBA Draft. The player taken ahead of him was Shaquille O'Neal. Mourning would make an immediate impact on the Hornets, averaging 21.0 pts, 10.3 rebounds, and 3.47 blocks as a rookie. Those Hornets teams were fun to watch with teammate Larry Johnson forming a powerful scoring duo. And one of his greatest career moments came in his rookie season in the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Celtics. On May 5, 1993, in Game 4 his 20-footer at the buzzer gave the Hornets a 104–103 victory in the game and a three-games-to-one victory in the series.
His career would be full of highlights. During his 15-year NBA career with the Hornets, Miami Heat and New Jersey Nets, he would put together a Hall of Fame resume. He was a 7-time NBA All-Star (1994–1997, 2000–2002), and a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He averaged 17.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
In 2006, the man known as "Zo" teamed up with that Shaq guy to win an NBA championship in 2006. That championship came after Zo made a comeback after receiving a kidney transplant in 2003. He is the definition of perseverance. He would finally retire in 2009.
Check out the top 10 plays of his great career:
One of the plays people also remember Mourning for is his the fight with New York Knicks forward Larry Johnson during the 1998 playoffs, when Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy tried unsuccessfully to break it up. He was seen holding onto Mourning's leg and getting swung around like he was just a fly.
In 2009, Mourning would become the first Heat player to have his number retired (33). In 2014, he was honored with his induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Here's to you Zo. Happy Birthday.