Alonzo Mourning's best season came in 1999, he should have won the MVP (Malone earned his second trophy that year), but his top-seeded Heat lost to the Knicks in the first round yet again – the first top overall playoff seed to lose in the first round in Eastern Conference postseason history. New York also toppled the Heat in 2000. Six consecutive playoff ousters at the hands of just two teams.
From there came the illness, and the decline. From there also came the gold medal, that eventual championship ring (after a Finals series that saw Mourning outplay a weary and overweight Shaquille O’Neal off the Heat bench), his rightful lionization, and deserved Hall of Fame induction. As unfortunate as it may have been to see Mourning cut down in his prime, and as frightening as the diagnosis and eventual transplant may have been, you get the feeling that an unbowed Alonzo Mourning will take all of it.
— Kelly Dwyer