Miami Heat Raise Olympic Banners For Wade, Mourning, Hardaway
By NBA.com - Feb. 2, 2009
Alonzo Mourning's two most satisfying moments as a player came when the Miami Heat won the 2006 NBA title, and when the U.S. men's basketball team captured gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
There's now banners swaying for both.
The newly retired center, along with 2000 Olympic teammate Tim Hardaway and 2008 Beijing gold medalist Dwyane Wade, were honored at halftime of Miami's game against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night. Banners were unfurled over the baseline nearest the Miami bench, where they'll hang alongside ones marking the 2006 NBA championship and other titles in Heat history.
Others who have played for Miami have won Olympic gold medals, but those are the only three to have done so while actually under contract with the Heat.
'My spirit will continue to live in this particular arena,' said Mourning, who made his retirement official on Jan. 22, ending his quest to return to the Heat for the latter stages of this season.
Wade's banner was unveiled shortly after the 2006 Finals MVP returned from Beijing this summer, but the Heat elected not to actually hang it until ones could be prepared for Mourning and Hardaway as well.
'We are so proud to be a franchise in the NBA and be able to have not only great players ... but ones who could take their talent to another world,' Heat president and Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley said. 'It was a privilege to coach them.'
Halftime was extended by about five minutes so Wade could participate in the final portion of the ceremony, which took place at center court. The Olympic anthem blared through the arena when the banners were revealed.
Wade was the leading scorer for the U.S. in Beijing, averaging 16 points on 67 percent shooting, and his 27 points played a huge role in the Americans' win over Spain in the gold-medal game.
'I'm most proud of my team, the way that we did it together,' Wade said. 'We had a lot of individual guys who came together and became one of the best teams ever.'
Wade said to have his name hanging alongside Mourning and Hardaway was 'an honor.'
'They were before me,' Wade said, 'and I'm going to try to continue my part and make them proud as well.'
Mourning averaged 10.2 points and 4.2 rebounds for the U.S. team in Sydney, those numbers coming on the eve of a chapter that would change his life.
He missed two games in Sydney, flying back to South Florida to be there for the birth of his daughter, whom he and his wife Tracy would name Myka Sydney -- a nod to the Olympic city. Mourning returned to Sydney in time for the medal round.
But shortly after those Olympics, Mourning was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a disease that keeps kidneys from properly filtering waste from blood and led to him needing a transplant in 2003. He retired, then eventually returned, and was a key part of Miami's run to the 2006 title.
'To put that jersey on and now you're representing 300 million people, you couldn't give anything less than your best,' Mourning said.
Hardaway -- introduced to the crowd as 'the best point guard in Heat history' by team broadcaster Eric Reid -- averaged 5.5 points for Team USA in Sydney.
'To say you won a gold medal is beautiful,' Hardaway said.