Alonzo Mourning’s three-year tenure with the Charlotte Hornets was defined by his unforgettable triple-threat status as a dominant scorer, elite rebounder and highlight-generating shot-blocker.
The Hornets snagged Mourning out of Georgetown University with the second overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft – one spot behind LSU’s Shaquille O’Neal. Mourning’s impact was felt immediately as the 6’10” center averaged 21.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and a franchise-record 3.5 blocks on his way to NBA All-Rookie First Team honors.
Mourning’s defining moment in Charlotte came in Game 4 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Boston Celtics. With Charlotte trailing 103-102 in the closing seconds, Mourning received teammate Dell Curry’s inbounds pass and knocked down a go-ahead jumper at the top of the key to help seal the franchise’s first playoff series victory. Still today, this shot is the most unforgettable play in team history.
On his way to averaging another 21.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.1 blocks his second season, Mourning made the first of his seven career NBA All-Star Game appearances, although the Hornets failed to return to the playoffs. That summer, the Charlotte big man won a gold medal for Team USA at the 1994 FIBA World Championships in Canada.
Mourning led the team in scoring, rebounding, blocks and field-goal percentage his third season in Charlotte, helping earn himself another All-Star Game nomination and the Hornets a second playoff berth in three years. Shortly before the start of the 1995-96 campaign, Mourning was traded to the Miami Heat as part of a six-player deal that sent Glen Rice back to Charlotte.
He finished his Hornets career with averages of 21.3 points, 10.1 rebounds and a franchise-best 3.2 blocks over 215 total games. Mourning’s scoring and rebounding clips are the second-highest all-time averages in franchise history behind Glen Rice and Emeka Okafor, respectively.
Mourning also sits first in franchise history in total blocks (684), fifth in total rebounds (2,176) and sixth in career field-goal percentage (51.2 percent). He holds additional single-season Charlotte records for free throws (495; 1992-93), total blocks (271; 1992-93) and is one of four players in team history to be nominated to the All-Star Game multiple times.
Mourning played another 13 NBA seasons with the Heat and New Jersey Nets, briefly retiring in 2003 to treat a kidney disease. The seven-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA honoree, two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and 2000 Olympic gold medalist would win his only championship in 2006 with Miami before retiring on Jan. 22, 2009.
On August 8, 2014, Mourning was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. He was honored at halftime of the Hornets’ game against the Miami Heat on Feb. 5, 2016 and is permanently commemorated in the lobby of Charlotte’s Spectrum Center. He currently works for the Heat as the Vice President of Player Programs.