NBA

Miami Heat's Alonzo Mourning calls it quits

Miami centre Alonzo Mourning has announced his retirement from professional basketball. The move ends a 15-season career in which the 38-year-old was selected seven times for the All-Star Games.

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AFP - Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning, who had been battling to come back from a devastating knee injury, gave up the fight Thursday and retired from the National Basketball Association.

Mourning's announcement brings down the curtain on a 15-season career in which the 38-year-old established himself as the best player in the Heat's 21-year history.

The seven-time All-Star had planned for 2007-08 to be his final season.

But that plan went awry when he tore the patella tendon in his right knee, as well as his quadriceps in a game on December 19 of 2007. He hasn't played in a game since, but had continued to harbor hopes he might return.

Mourning acknowledged on Thursday that the decision to leave was difficult, but he had no doubt it was the right one for him.

"I truly feel it's best that I retire," he said. "When you've got something you love and you're passionate about, it's hard to let that go. But at 38 I feel I've physically done all I can for this game. It has been an amazing ride.

"It's not a sad day, but it's a day to celebrate. I can think of a million people right now that would have loved to walk the path I've walked. The ups and the downs made it even more joyous."

Mourning, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, had already beaten the odds when he returned to the league in 2004-05 after receiving a kidney transplant.

The life-saving transplant followed his diagnosis with a rare kidney disease in 2003.

In 2006 he helped Miami to its first NBA title.

One of the league's most feared defenders for the better part of a decade, Mourning is the Heat's career leader in points, games, rebounds and blocked shots.

He averaged 17.1 points and 8.5 rebounds a game over 837 NBA appearances for Miami, the Charlotte Hornets and New Jersey after being taken second overall in the 1992 NBA Draft.

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