Heat’s Mourning will return next year

MIAMI (AP) — Alonzo Mourning is coming back, one more time.

Ending nearly three months of suspense about his future, the Miami Heat center said Sunday night at his annual Zo’s Summer Groove charity game that he’ll play again next season — a choice he kept secret to the end, insisting he was still deciding just hours before the actual announcement.

Truth was, Mourning’s decision was made weeks ago. The Heat’s reign as NBA champions ended with a first-round sweep this past season by the Chicago Bulls, and he simply isn’t willing to let that be the final chapter in the book he’s writing on his career.

“I want to redeem myself and try to help this team redeem ourselves as an organization and try to get back on track,” Mourning said. “That wasn’t the Miami team you saw in the playoffs last year. ... I was embarrassed. I was truly embarrassed by that outcome. I know for a fact we’re a better team. It left a sour taste in my mouth and it’s time to really end it all on the right note.”

This was the third straight summer Mourning considered retirement before choosing to keep playing. Next season will be his 15th in the NBA, not including a full year he missed with kidney problems that led to him getting a transplant in 2003.

Mourning averaged 8.6 points last season for the Heat, and his 5.44 blocks per 48 minutes led the NBA by a wide margin. He started more than half of Miami’s games last season while Shaquille O’Neal recovered from knee surgery.

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