I learned this earlier on ESPN:

Mourning must end NBA career

The disappointment was clear in Alonzo Mourning̢۪s voice when he broke the news to Jason Kidd: He was calling it quits because his life-threatening kidney disease had worsened.

MOURNING WASN̢۪T WORRIED about himself, though. His biggest concern was letting the team down, four months after joining the New Jersey Nets.

“The big person that he is, he was very soft-spoken,” Kidd said Monday, recalling his telephone conversation with Mourning the night before. “He felt that he was maybe letting me down in the sense that he came here to try and win a championship and he came here because of me.”

Mourning, 33, will need a transplant soon, and the team said a nationwide search is under way for a prospective donor.

A player who epitomized work ethic, Mourning lasted just 12 games in his return to the NBA after sitting out last season and large portions of two others because of the ailment, focal glomerulosclerosis.

I’m, at most, a casual fan of basketball, and never followed Mourning’s career with any especial intensity. But this is one of the sad stories of the game–someone universally regarded as a geniunely good guy who simply can’t play anymore because of illness. And not even an injury sustained playing the game.

I’m not sure why we care more about athletes whom we’ve never met than ordinary folks, but many of us do. Intellectually, Mourning is in a far better position than others of his age who are unfairly struck with such misfortune. He’s enjoyed years of adulation. He’s quite wealthy and has made himself a sufficiently marketable commodity that he’ll continue to live a much grander lifestyle than most of us can realistically aspire to. But somehow a great athlete’s loss of physical abilities in what should be the prime of their career seems particularly brutal.

(Cross posted at SportsBlog)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dodd says:

    It may have as much to do with his younger teammates belittling him for being too weak and slow because of it as it does with the kidney itself. Whole lotta class in that locker room.

  2. Rob says:

    I think that Mourning’s inability to play is even more poignant given the fact that he has already achieved riches and fame.

    Too many atheletes start out their careers strong only to succumb to complacency once they chash a few paychecks.