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The Drive Thursday 7-12-12-Alonzo Mourning stopped by the set to talk with The Drive live from the Hoop Tee Celebrity Golf Classic. The guys talk about his time in Charlotte as Hornet, why he left Charlotte for Miami, and they ask him if he thinks the Hornets name should come back to Charlotte.
Even though the Charlotte Hornets folded, Mourning said they had a great thing going if they’d been given the chance to mature.
“We were young, we were quick, and I’m a strong believer that you can’t push what you can’t catch. So we relied a lot on our speed and had a lot of fire power. We were just coming into our own defensively, so I really felt like down the stretch we were one of those contending teams.”
We asked what Mourning remembered of the fans during his time here in Charlotte more than ten years ago. He still remembers it well. Comparing Charlotte to the current situation in Seattle, he said Hornets fans were some of the best in the entire league.
“That’s exactly how it was here back in ’92 when I was drafted,” Mourning said. “We had the largest attendance and we had some of the loudest fans in the league. A lot of teams hated to play here just because of the fans. There were nights where I was tired, didn’t have any energy to get up and ready to play but I got energy from the fans. ”
He also mentioned that he could see the Hornets name coming back to Charlotte, should that ever become a viable option.
In a poll a couple years back, Mourning took the lead as one of Charlotte’s most beloved athletes. He told us the feeling was mutual and explained his reasons for leaving.
“I didn’t want to leave, and I’m going to tell you a quick story. I was on the phone with George Shinn. We had some choice words. I was willing to take less money to stay, and he told me plainly; he said ‘Look, you’re not worth that.’ That’s exactly what he told me, so I told my agent what he said, and the rest is history.”
Moving away from his experience in Charlotte, we asked him about the bulk of his career that took place in Miami. To Mourning, the criticism facing Lebron just comes with the life he lives.
“I think people will continue to scrutinize him simply because he’s the best in the world at what he does,” Mourning said. “When Michael was playing, he had a lot of haters out there too, so it’s going to be no different than Lebron. My advice to him is going to be keep winning, keep building on your legacy…I feel like he is the most physically gifted athlete I have ever seen, that’s probably ever played the game.”
Because we spoke with him at the HoopTee Celebrity Classic for charity, we talked to him about his involvement in several charitable organizations in south Florida for inner-city children. Mourning spoke with appreciation for those who have helped him along the way and expressed a need to proliferate their generosity.
“We’ve got a collective responsibility as adults to make sure that we try to provide the right direction for our young people,” Mourning said. “We’re dealing with a vicious cycle of illiteracy in the US. We’ve got a lot of kids dropping out of school, especially a lot of minorities— blacks and Hispanics. Well over fifty percent of black and Hispanic males don’t graduate from high school. That’s a terrible statistic when you think about it. I know there’s a lot of people that contribute to my development as a person as well as a player, and I feel a tremendous responsibility to do the same for others as well.”