Wed, Nov 26, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Sun has set to Mourning's career

AP , EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY AND ORLANDO, FLORIDA

Alonzo Mourning, right, slam dunks against Russia's Andrei Kirilenko at the SuperDome at the men's basketball quarterfinal during the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Mourning, now a center with the Nets, is leaving basketball again because a kidney disease.

PHOTO: AFP

New Jersey Nets center Alonzo Mourning is leaving basketball again because the kidney disease he's had for three years is worsening and he needs a transplant.

The announcement Monday came just a few months after Mourning, 33, signed a four-year contract with the Nets believed to be worth US$22 million. The four-time All-Star sat out all of last season and large portions of two of the last three years because of the life-threatening kidney ailment, focal glomerulosclerosis.

The team said Mourning, who was in his 12th NBA season, needs a transplant "in the near future" and that a nationwide search is under way for a prospective donor.

"Alonzo is a true champion and a very courageous athlete who attempted to defy the odds with his comeback to the NBA," Nets president Rod Thorn said. "Unfortunately, his medical condition will not allow him to continue his basketball career."

Dr. Gerald Appel of Columbia University Medical Center said Mourning's kidney function has deteriorated rapidly in recent weeks.

"It is no longer medically safe for him to play basketball," Appel said. "Although he still feels well, the chemical imbalances in his blood make it dangerous for him to play."

Mourning played in 12 games for the Nets this season, averaging a disappointing 8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 17.9 minutes. His career averages were 20.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game coming into this season.

On Saturday, Mourning had a season-high 15 points in the Nets' 81-80 loss to the Toronto Raptors. Two days earlier, he got into a heated exchange with teammate Kenyon Martin, who made light of Mourning's disease.

"I have overcome all I have overcome to come back and play this game for one reason, and that's to win," Mourning said afterward.

Mourning previously played for the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat.

The disease was detected in October 2000, when Mourning was with the Heat. Shortly after, the 6-foot-10 center helped the US team win the gold medal at the Olympics.

The disease attacks the filters in the kidney that remove waste from the blood. That makes the kidney spill protein from blood into the urine. The resulting kidney damage can lead to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a transplant.

Pacers 89, Magic 78

Jermaine O'Neal had 22 points and 19 rebounds, and the Indiana Pacers handed the Orlando Magic their 13th straight loss, winning 89-78.

Ron Artest added 17 points and Austin Croshere scored 13 of his season-high 15 in the second quarter Monday to help Indiana extend its winning streak to five games.

Orlando is four losses short of tying its franchise-worst losing skid. That stretch was set in 1991-92, the season before the Magic drafted Shaquille O'Neal.

The Magic played without Tracy McGrady, who missed the game because of a fever.

Juwan Howard, returning to a starting role, scored 17 points to lead four Orlando players in double figures. Donnell Harvey had 13 points and nine rebounds in his first start of the season, and Gordan Giricek and Tyronn Lue also scored 13 points.

Knicks 94, Celtics 88

In Boston, Shandon Anderson scored a season-high 28 points and the New York Knicks, playing without their top two scorers, beat the Boston Celtics.

It was the Knicks' second win in eight days against the Celtics after losing the previous eight matchups. New York overcame big deficits both times.

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