Heat's Mourning tears knee tendon while playing defense vs. Hawks

Updated: December 20, 2007, 10:34 AM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Alonzo Mourning refused to leave what might have been the last game of his career on a stretcher.

After tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee in Miami's game against Atlanta on Wednesday night, the 37-year-old Heat center was placed on the stretcher, but he refused the ride.

[+] EnlargeAlonzo Mourning
AP Photo/Tami ChappellAlonzo Mourning (33) tore the patellar tendon in his right knee against Atlanta, but refused to be taken off the court on a stretcher.

"That's not the way I envisioned myself walking off the court for the last time in my career," he said. "I've been through so much in my life. If I had to crawl off the court I would have. Nobody was going to push me off on a stretcher off the court. That wasn't going to happen."

Mourning already has said there is "zero chance" of playing another season.

"We tried to help him up and he just said, 'It's over, it's over,' " Miami's Udonis Haslem said.

Mourning sat up, rose to his feet and limped to the Miami bench with the assistance of teammates. He received an ovation as he made the slow, painful walk to the bench.

Miami spokesman Michael Lissack said an examination at Philips Arena, including X-rays, revealed the injury. Mourning will have more tests Thursday with team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick, including an MRI.

"Dr. Selesnick will let me know tomorrow," said Mourning, who was on crutches after the game. "But obviously it's going to require some kind of surgical procedure. And it'll be done as soon as possible."

Lissack said it wasn't immediately known if the injury could end Mourning's season.

Injuries such as this typically take at least three months to heal.

When asked about Mourning's outlook, Heat coach Pat Riley said "I think we should really wait on that. But it's not good."

"I'd never put anything past Zo. But the knee injury is ... sad for me because I know him. I've been really close to him. It's sad to see him really be hurt."

The Hawks outlasted the Heat 117-111 in overtime.

Mourning is in his 15th year in the NBA, including 11 seasons with Miami.

Mourning was hurt when attempting to defend the basket on a layup by Atlanta's Mario West. Replays showed Mourning's knee buckled without contact from West as Mourning was about to jump.

"When I planted I felt like my foot slipped," Mourning said. "It happened so fast though. It really did. I didn't even watch the tape. From what everybody else told me that was watching it, they said it looked like I slipped."

Mourning is a seven-time All-Star and two-time defensive player of the year.

His 15 years in the league do not include a full year he missed because of kidney problems that led to him getting a transplant in 2003.

"Each of you here know I've been through a whole lot worse than this," Mourning said. "It's disappointing to even think that my career would end this way, but there are so many other things that life has to offer for me. I have a great family and I have so many other opportunities out there."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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