Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Tribute To A Giant

Last night, in a touching and tearful ceremony, the Miami Heat retired Alonzo Mourning's #33 jersey--the first retired number in franchise history. It reminded me of another touching and tearful Alonzo Mourning story that I recounted here a few years ago that I'd like to offer up again in tribute to 'Zo as the accolades and benedictions roll in:

When I worked at KFNS sports radio in St. Louis in the early 90's, we producers were looking to get some guests on the air. One of the ways we frequently did this was by "ambushing" (as we called it). "Ambushing" was simply calling a sports team's hotel, asking for the room of a player, and when he answered (the majority of them, suprisingly enough, register under their own names) asking him if he'd come on the air with us for a few minutes. It wasn't a fun job because many players understandably didn't care to be bothered in their rooms and could be a bit terse. Occasionally, however, there were some really nice ones, even among the stars. I recall Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling, Chipper Jones, and Andy Benes as being particularly friendly and accomodating. And NHL players were uniformly wonderful.

Anyway, ambushing wasn't the most fun in the world, so we'd get interns to do it when we could. One day, probably in '94 or '95, I asked one of our interns to try Alonzo Mourning in his room during a Heat road trip. The intern dutifully looked up the hotel number in the NBA media guide, got Mourning on the phone, and asked him if he'd be willing to come on the air with us for a couple of minutes.

"What's your name again?" Alonzo asked.

"Tim Brinks," repeated the intern.

"And where are you guys at?" inquired Mourning.

"St. Louis," said Tim.

"Well I'm going to come up there and find you, and I'm going to #&$@^!& kill you!" quipped 'Zo before slamming down the phone.

Good times.

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