Best Miami Heat Player - 2002
Eddie Jones may have averaged close to 19 points, but he's still just the Best of the Rest. Pat Riley built this thirtysomething team around his center (focal glomerulosclerosis be damned), and the coach has clung tenaciously to an offensive and defensive style that plays to Mourning's strengths. In December, that strategy made Riley look stubborn, inflexible, and not very smart. By March, Riley had turned a collection of has-beens, almost-kinda-weres, and flat-out bums into an actual team with a chance to make the playoffs and had silenced those who were calling for the coach to retire. While the playoff push eventually petered out, the Heat wouldn't even have come close unless the complementary players had finally meshed around their superstar. Zo, in turn, battled through illness (to which his immunosuppressant drugs make him more susceptible), pain (for which he can take no anti-inflammatories, thanks, again, to his kidney medicines), fatigue, and a near-total turnover of his teammates to finally reach a Winter Groove.