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Mourning thanks doctors, kidney donor at hoop Hall

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 9, 2014 at 9:18 am •  Published: August 9, 2014
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Alonzo Mourning first thanked all of the usual people when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: His coaches, his teachers, and the foster mother who raised him.

Then he turned to those who made it possible for his unique journey to the sport's highest honor.

With one of the doctors who performed his kidney transplant in attendance, the former Georgetown and Miami Heat star discussed the disease that threatened his life and almost ended his career. He also thanked out his cousin-turned-kidney donor, Jason Cooper.

"There was such purpose to my life at that point and I never doubted — no matter how long the odds — that it was possible," Mourning said during Friday night's induction ceremony. "I just thought, 'This is much bigger than me.' I had a goal set to win a championship that was denied when I got kidney disease."

Mourning returned to win the 2006 NBA title with the Heat and complete a career that led him to the Springfield shrine. He was inducted in a class that also included former NBA commissioner David Stern, NCAA championship-winning coaches Nolan Richardson and Gary Williams and six-time NBA All-Star Mitch Richmond.

The women's teams from Immaculata College that won three straight national championships (1972-74) were also honored, along with Lithuania star Sarunas Marciulionis. The Immaculata teams included Marianne Stanley, Theresa Grentz and Rene Portland.

Former Indiana Pacers coach Bob "Slick" Leonard, the late Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton of the New York Knicks and the late Guy Rodgers of Temple rounded out the class.

Stern was honored for his three decades of leadership that transformed the league from struggling teams and tape-delayed finals to an international juggernaut. His introductory video included praise from NBA stars like Michael Jordan, Bill Russell and Magic Johnson but also from Nelson Mandela.

"Everything we do is always about the game," Stern said, asking the entire crowd to stand so he could thank the former players, fans and family members who made the league's success possible. "The reason I'm here is because of thousands of people over the years who have done so much."

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