Mourning Has Rare Kidney Disorder

Tuesday, October 10th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning has a rare kidney disorder that could require a kidney transplant, his foster mother told The Palm Beach Post.

``He did say to me that it was a rare case,'' Fannie Threet, who raised Mourning since he was 12, told the newspaper by telephone from her home in Chesapeake, Va.

``I asked him was it to the extent that he would need a kidney,'' Threet said. ``He said he didn't know. They are testing now to see what the difference would be.''

Heat officials on Tuesday declined comment on the report.

Mourning last appeared in public a week ago at Miami Heat media day, when he discussed an offseason that included the birth of his second child and his role in the U.S. Olympic team's gold-medal effort.

``I couldn't have written out my summer any better,'' he said.

That was before doctors discovered an apparent kidney disorder during a routine physical. The Heat broke training camp Monday without Mourning, and they don't know when he'll return.

Threet said she has spoken twice with Mourning since he was first diagnosed with the disorder, The Palm Beach Post reported Tuesday.

She said Mourning told her that doctors are ``hopeful they could find a kidney if it was necessary,'' but he didn't go into further details.

Mourning was not specific about the nature of the ailment, Threet said.

``I didn't get into any particular name,'' she said. ``He just said, 'Oh, it is bad, Mom. It is bad.'''

Attempts to reach Mourning on Monday night were unsuccessful, according to the report.

Mourning told Seattle center Patrick Ewing that he'll play this season, but the Heat have declined to discuss their All-Star center's condition or prognosis. Mourning has been in Miami undergoing further tests so doctors can determine the best course of treatment.

``We're more concerned about Alonzo as a person than as a player,'' forward Brian Grant said. ``We're not even thinking about when he's going to come back, but just is he going to be all right. We should know that pretty soon.''

The Heat play their first preseason game Wednesday at New Jersey. The regular season opens Nov. 1.

``Zo left me a message Sunday and told us to keep working hard and he'll take care of his end of it,'' Miami coach Pat Riley said. ``He's in great spirits. He just wants to find out what's available out there and what the definitive answer is, and then we'll go from there.''

Mourning discussed his condition last week with Ewing, his best friend in the NBA, The Miami Herald reported.

``Our conversation went fine and he was in good spirits,'' Ewing said. ``In fact, he cursed me out because I sounded depressed on the phone when he told me what he had. ...

``He's going to play again this season. He just said he is going to play again at some point. I don't know when that is.''

With a series of offseason deals, Riley positioned Miami as the Eastern Conference favorite. He brought in Grant, All-Star guard Eddie Jones and rugged forward Anthony Mason.

But the moves left the Heat thin on the bench. In the past, they had Clarence Weatherspoon or Ike Austin to fill in for Mourning, but there's no comforting option this season. His backup is seldom-used Duane Causwell.

The best alternative may be to play Grant or 6-foot-7 Mason out of position at center and hope their aggressiveness compensates for a lack of size.

``They had a real scrimmage Sunday night against one another,'' Riley said. ``It was a sight to behold to watch them go after each other. The only trouble is neither one of them would have been in the game at the end. They both would have had about 16 fouls.''

The Heat stress that their first concern is Mourning's health, and there has been no discussion about bringing in a replacement if he can't play this season, Riley said. Miami would have about $4 million available under the salary cap for a disabled-player exception.

``In the backs of our minds we're thinking about it,'' Riley said, ``but we're not moving on anything right now.''