In his previous life, Mourning had been the indomitable face of the Heat franchise. First diagnosed with kidney disease in 2000, he eventually moved north to New Jersey, underwent a life-saving transplant and reclaimed the career he once took for granted. After a stint with the Raptors, Mourning was signed by the Heat as a free agent on March 1, 2005. Given his age and physical condition, there was a lot that Mourning couldn't do, yet the lesson of this team's success is that he focused on what he could accomplish. He came off the bench to block shots, rebound and create easy baskets for his teammates at the other end. He was the hardest-working player each day at practice, in no small part because he was never sure if his transplant would permit him to practice the following day. He was focused on living in the moment, and so if anyone in any role began to doubt his commitment to the larger goal of the team, Mourning was there to show by example that he hadn't gone to all of this trouble for anything less than winning the championship that had eluded him during all his years of good health.
Here's a toast, then, to old age. As they celebrated the end of their long journey, the coach and players of the Miami Heat never felt younger.