The Hall of Fame center and seven-time NBA All-Star discusses the advice he gave his son Trey, a 6'9" freshman forward at Georgetown, and LeBron James's departure from the Heat.
MAGGIE GRAY:What was the day like when LeBron decided to go back to Cleveland?
ALONZO MOURNING: Deflating. Deflating because nobody expected it. It's unfortunate, but that's the business of basketball.
MG:Where is LeBron's place in Heat history?
AM: He's going to go down as one of the greatest players in the history of our organization [Mourning played almost 10 seasons for the Heat and is now a team exec]. By far. I'm very thankful for the four years that he gave us. If you could ask any player to come and do what he did for the organization and for the city of Miami, you would take him and be thankful for it. You wouldn't expect him to leave, but you would be thankful.
MG:Your son Trey is a freshman at your alma mater, Georgetown. Is his relationship with coach John Thompson III similar to the one you had with your coach, his father, John Thompson?
AM: I think it's a lot different. That was a point in my life when I really needed that strong father figure. Back then that is truly what Big John was. He treated each and every one of us like we were his sons.
MG:What do you tell your son about the idea of [leaving school early] and turning pro?
AM: Well, he doesn't have to turn pro to take care of his parents. The one thing I did tell him is that his education comes first. I don't care how good you [can] become. Your education is the No. 1 priority right now. He realizes that. And he's a great student.
For more of Mourning's interview, plus the SI Now archive, go to SI.com/sinow
"I'm very thankful for the four years that he gave us."
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BOB ROSATO FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (MOURNING)
KEVIN C. COX/GETTY IMAGES (HUNTER)
AL TIELEMANS FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (DAVIS)
ANDY HAYT FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (SAMPSON)
DAVID E. KLUTHO FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (CALIPARI)