Kidney ailment forces Mourning to retire

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New Jersey Nets center Alonzo Mourning is leaving basketball again because the kidney disease he's had for three years is worsening and he needs a transplant.

The announcement Monday came just a few months after Mourning, 33, signed a four-year contract with the Nets believed to be worth $22 million. The four-time All-Star sat out all of last season and large portions of two of the last three years because of the life-threatening kidney ailment, focal glomerulosclerosis.

The team said Mourning, who was in his 12th NBA season, needs a transplant "in the near future" and that a nationwide search is under way for a prospective donor.

"Alonzo is a true champion and a very courageous athlete who attempted to defy the odds with his comeback to the NBA," Nets president Rod Thorn said. "Unfortunately, his medical condition will not allow him to continue his basketball career."

Dr. Gerald Appel of Columbia University Medical Center said Mourning's kidney function has deteriorated rapidly in recent weeks.

"It is no longer medically safe for him to play basketball," Appel said.

Mourning played in 12 games for the Nets this season, averaging a disappointing 8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 17.9 minutes. His career averages were 20.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game coming into this season.

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