Alonzo Mourning is a Basketball Hall of Famer, not because he lit up the stat sheet in points, but because he was an absolute force down low. With centers still a focal point of building an NBA franchise in the 1990s, Mourning was the heart of the late 1990s/early 2000s Miami Heat.

Of course, those Heat teams go hand-in-hand with the corresponding Knicks teams of the era. The Heat and Knicks met in four straight playoffs from 1997-2000, going the distance in all four series. Mourning and Patrick Ewing, fellow Georgetown alums and good friends off the court, were the center of the bitter rivalry, which featured constant physical struggles.

"It was just our mentality the way we approached the game," Mourning remembers. "It was born out of our sheer will to want to win. It wasn't a whole lot of affection before games like they are now. It was about, 'I'm out here to take your head off. You're in my way right now.' That was the mentality that everyone had. You go back to Indiana-Chicago series, they were wars. Knicks-Pacers series, wars. Heat-Knicks, wars. The list goes on. There were constant wars and rivalries. Boston-Philly, Lakers-Boston, the list goes on."

Mourning's Heat won four consecutive Atlantic Division titles from 1996-2000, but he failed to make the NBA Finals during his first tenure in Miami (1995-2002). However, after battling a kidney disease and a stint with the Nets, Mourning returned to the Heat in 2005 and won an NBA title in 2006.

Mourning spoke to ThePostGame on June 20 before speaking on an American Express Teamed Up panel in NYC with the center he backed up on that championship team: Shaquille O'Neal. O'Neal and Mourning went No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the 1992 NBA Draft. Doris Burke moderated the discussion.

Although the NBA has changed in the decade since Mourning retired, his love of the game has not waned. He commends the evolution of the league.

"I think Adam Silver's done a phenomenal job in revamping the game," he says. "The physicality of the game has diminished, somewhat. We're protecting the product a little bit more. Nobody's being taken out of the air like they took [Kurt] Rambis out of the air anymore. But the game is the second-most popular sport in the world, so we're excited about being part of the brand."

Mourning currently serves as vice president of player programs for the Heat.

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