first...some flash back from the song: "What's Up Doc? (Can We Rock)" by Fu Schnickens feat. Shaq:Now who's the first pick? me, word is born and
Not a Christean Laettner, not Alonzo MourningShaq, Mourning meshing together at the right time for Heat
By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer
May 26, 2005
MIAMI (AP) -- They were once bitter rivals, sharing nothing but disdain for the other.
From the moment Shaquille O'Neal was the No. 1 pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, one spot ahead of Alonzo Mourning, the pair have been linked -- and the relationship was never good. O'Neal once wanted to fight Mourning; in turn, Mourning questioned if O'Neal had any true basketball skill.
Yet their marriage as Miami teammates has gone splendidly, with the two becoming fast friends because of a shared goal -- delivering the Heat's first NBA championship.
``He and I both want the same thing,'' O'Neal said. ``We want to get it done.''
In the Eastern Conference finals against Detroit, a best-of-seven series now tied at a game apiece, O'Neal and Mourning have occasionally been paired on the court -- although both are centers. When playing alongside O'Neal, Mourning moves to power forward.
``It'll be a little more challenging for opponents when we're in the game together,'' Mourning said. ``If they go past me, then they've got to see him. If they go past him, then they've got to see me.''
Both teams took Thursday off. Game 3 of the series is Sunday on the Pistons' home floor.
Late in Miami's 92-86 win in Game 2 of the series on Wednesday night, Mourning proved invaluable, especially on the defensive end. He played eight minutes in the final quarter, officially being credited in that stint with two blocks; he appeared to warrant a third when Ben Wallace missed a dunk with 4:51 left.
Another Wallace shot was blocked by Mourning with 3:43 left, this one setting up Dwyane Wade for a layup that put Miami ahead 83-78. And Wallace tried to run over Mourning's screen on Miami's next possession, sending Mourning to the line for two free throws; he made both and put the Heat up by seven.
Mourning's end-of-game numbers seemed modest: 22 minutes, six points, four blocks, two rebounds. But O'Neal heaped plenty of praise in Mourning's direction after the game.
``Zo's definitely playing well, playing hard, blocking shots, playing good defense,'' said O'Neal, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds in Game 2. ``... It was great. He had my back a couple times, couple times I really couldn't get to the rebound because I was trying to hold Ben Wallace off.''
Some of Detroit's players, including Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace, said they didn't think the O'Neal-Mourning pairing mattered much. But Detroit coach Larry Brown was a bit more complimentary.
``Zo, everybody forgets how good he is. But they did a good job,'' Brown said Wednesday night. ``Defensively they forced us a little outside. They challenged shots, they did a lot of good things.''
Mourning, who still takes numerous medications for his kidney disease and the resultant transplant, said he's willing to play as much as Miami needs -- especially with O'Neal still slowed by a bruised right thigh.
``It ain't time to conserve nothing right now. It's winning time,'' Mourning said. ``I can go full-tilt. You don't have to cut back my minutes. My doctors have said 'Hey, you can go all out. You can do what you have to do.'''
When the Heat re-signed Mourning as a free agent late in the regular season, many wondered if Shaq and Zo could peacefully coexist. The answer was a resounding 'yes.'
On Tuesday, O'Neal picked up Mourning, and the two took Wade on a pep talk disguised as a joyride.
They stressed how important Wade was to Miami's championship chances, how he should simply ignore what he was hearing about the way he played in the Heat's Game 1 loss. The chat sent Wade's spirits soaring; he dropped 40 points on the Pistons in Game 2.
``I listen to guys who have been doing it for years, `` Wade said. ``And I just try to come out and make them proud.''