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June 20, 2006

Alonzo Mourning


Q. What did they tell you about drinking champagne and the kidney?
ALONZO MOURNING: You know what, my doctor, he told me, could I have a drink in moderation. And to tell you the truth, I haven't had a drink since 2000, since I was diagnosed. I gave it all up. Because I used to drink beers with my boys, but I haven't had a drink since then. But I think this is -- I think he'll definitely -- my doctor would give me a doctor's note for the day. He'll give me a note for the day, a pass.

Q. Could you talk about the hardest moment for you in this long wait for a championship, what was the darkest time and if you could sort of take us from there?
ALONZO MOURNING: Oh, the darkest time was in 2000, October 3, 2000, making that announcement that I wouldn't be playing basketball again. You know, that was probably one of the darkest moments.
I was on such a high at that point in my life because we had just come back from Sydney, Australia, and we won a gold medal. I had just traveled back for the birth of my daughter. I was just on a high at that time. I was on top of the world.
It all just went crashing down when I heard that news. You know, going through -- I read this book a while ago and there's a quote in it from Frederick Douglass saying that the road to success has many obstacles, and you go through adversity. I've gone through my share of it throughout my life.
You know what, the good thing about going through those things, it's just made me stronger, man. It's made me more determined to not succumb but to overcome. And I give God all the praise, I truly do. Because without Him just giving me life again, just giving me an opportunity to live, you know, and just experience this moment, just this particular moment right here, you know, I mean, I got my cousin here, and he's the one that donated the kidney to me. Words can't explain how grateful I am to him. I owe my life to him just saving me.
I remember when -- I remember laying in the hospital and just feeling like a newborn baby, truly, helpless, in a lot of pain, helpless. And just to have my strength again.
A long time ago, I told somebody, I said, you know what, I will trade everything, all the money, all the material things, all the success, I would trade all of that in the world for my health right now. My health is so important to me. Without your health, you can't live a life productively and not just do for yourself, but do for your family. It just makes me appreciate just living every moment now, even more.
And I want to share that with as many people as possible, you know, because I know I've been given a second chance, and I know that happened for a reason. The only way to share that particular situation is to continue to try to lift other people up in the process, and those who are going through any type of illness, those who are going through, you know, transplantation and having to deal with those type of physical obstacles in your life, you need some words of encouragement, some hope. You need that. I needed that.
I got a call from Lance Armstrong. He texted me after Game 5, he texted me. We've been playing phone tag because he called and spoke to my mom in Miami and wished me a happy Father's Day and just told me "great win." Before the series even started, he called me and was telling me, he told me that even though his heart is in Texas, he wants to see me win.
A lot of you don't realize this, but he was a huge, huge, inspiration to me in my whole recovery period. I read both of his books after my surgery, both of them. Laying in the hospital, I was reading his second book and his first book was extremely inspiring to me.
I think about what he had to go through and literally being on his death bed. I said to myself, if he can do it, man, I can do it. And the way I looked at him, I know that there are thousands and thousands of other people that look at me the same way and I want to be here to provide them with the hope to overcome and not succumb to it. You know, that's all you need, you need a little help and encouragement to get through. We're human. Some people might not see me as human because of the things I do out there on the court but I'm human, I laugh, I cry, I feel pain. I'm affected by some of the things you might write or say or what have you. I'm human, you know. And what drives me is my faith, my faith in knowing that I'm going to be all right.
I know and I've told plenty of people this; that there are kidney patients and transplant patients and what have you that deal with all types of sicknesses and illnesses and people that approach me. I had a gentleman approach me at the hotel before the game that was dealing with some physical problems and telling me how much I'm an inspiration to him. I told him, plainly, I said, you know what, the key to you recovering is keeping this right. (Pointing to head). Keeping your mind right. Because if you keep this positive and strong, then your body is going to follow it. I never gave up up here, I never gave up up here. I credit a great deal of my recovery to that because I never gave up up here because so many people are quick to give up and say, why me, why me, and just not realizing there's so many other people out there that has it a whole lot worse than you do. No matter how bad you got it, everybody has problems, everybody has problems, regardless of how bad you have it, somebody else out there has it worse. Think about that. Sit back and think about that, you know. That's what drives me.

Q. If you could talk about the Mavs early on were driving to the basket, really being aggressive and all of a sudden they are pulling back and taking those long jumpers again, what were you guys doing to force them back again?
ALONZO MOURNING: Defense, withstanding their run, because I knew, we knew as a team that they were going to make runs. They are at home. They had the crowd behind them and the momentum changes in games like this, especially in closing games like this. We had to sustain their run with getting stops, making defensive plays. I think collectively, everybody just dug a little bit deeper, you know, and we got one of the greatest basketball players in this game now in Shaq and D-Wade. We just relied on them to get us through and then everybody just threw their little two cents in and contributed to this moment here. It took that, just a collective effort and everybody just helping out there.
It becomes contagious. When you see person out there doing what they have to do in order for the whole group to be successful, it filters out to all the guys. I knew every second I was out there, I said, you know what, I'm going to leave every ounce of energy that I have, I worry about the rest of the summer right now.
Right now, every second that I'm out here, I'm going to give it all that I got so that we can experience a moment that we have been working so diligently the whole year for, when everybody counted us out. Thank you. God bless you all, man. Thank you. (Applause).

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