How John Thompson Jr. convinced Alonzo Mourning to leave Hornets for the Heat

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Mike DePrisco
·2 min read
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How Thompson convinced Mourning to leave Hornets for Miami originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

John Thompson Jr.'s players loved him, respected him, and listened to his advice even after leaving Georgetown for the NBA. 

Alonzo Mourning is no exception, and in 1996 when he decided to leave the Hornets and play for Pat Riley and the Heat, Thompson had a little something to do with it. Mourning and Thompson's former agent David Falk -- who also represented Michael Jordan -- joined the Sports Junkies Tuesday morning to recount a funny, yet pivotal meeting between the two Georgetown icons. 

"[Mourning] didn't want to leave Charlotte," Falk said. "Charlotte offered him about $13 million per year which was a lot of money. I wanted him to go to Miami, I'm a huge Pat Riley fan. I thought he could really thrive in Miami."

Despite Falk's recommendations and infatuation with Riley's track record in the league, Mourning wasn't moved. He wanted to stay with the team that drafted him and one he led to the playoffs in two of his first three seasons. 

Falk ended up bringing Mourning up to Washington D.C. to see Thompson. Falk explained the situation, which then prompted Thompson to ask Mourning one thing: "Son, tell me how you feel."

"[Mourning] says, 'I love Charlotte, I love the weather, I love the arena, I love the fans, I love my teammates,'" Falk said. "Then John says, 'Do you really like it that much?' He said, 'Yes sir I really do.'

"[Thompson] said, 'Then my advice is you should visit it often during the offseason," Falk said. 

After that, Mourning rejected the Hornets' contract offer, which led them to trade him to the Heat in exchange for Glen Rice, Matt Geiger, Khalid Reeves and a first-round pick. 

Mourning spent the next seven years in Miami, where he made four All-Star teams, and back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards. Miami made the playoffs six times during that span, making it as far as the Eastern Conference Finals in 1997. 

Mourning ended up leaving Miami as a free agent in 2003, but ultimately returned in 2005 to finish his career there. He was a part of Dwyane Wade's championship team in 2006 before retiring in 2008.

Mourning's jersey now hangs in the rafters at AmericanAirlines Arena. Taking Thompson's advice proved to be beneficial for the now Hall of Fame center. 

For more interviews, tune in to The Sports Junkies on NBC Sports Washington, weekdays from 6-10 a.m.