CHICAGO -- As one of the most charitable men to ever wear an NBA uniform, Alonzo Mourning knows it's far better to give than receive.
He did plenty of giving Monday as he spoke to this year's group of All-Americans about how to become true professionals and how to prepare for life after basketball. But he also talked about an accolade he recently received: being named to the list of the 35 greatest McDonald's All-Americans.
"It's a tremendous honor," Mourning said. "Going back to 1977, being selected to this group is one of the most prestigious honors I've had. What I remember most about 1988, and it didn't hit me until later, was the level of talent in that group. Many of us, such as Chris Jackson, Billy Owens, Shawn Kemp and Christian Laettner, impacted the game immediately and 90 percent of us had long careers."
The former Indian River (Chesapeake, Va.) standout and 1988 McDonald's All-American addressed the 2012 group as part of the McDonald's All-American Advisory Council. As an NBA champion and the second overall pick of the 1992 NBA draft, Mourning had the kids' complete attention as he shared the journey of his career.
"Many of these kids will go down the same road I did," said Mourning, who played four years at Georgetown and was a seven-time NBA All-Star. "I want them to understand how to be a better professional. Basketball is temporary. When I first made the NBA I thought I was going to play until I was 60 years old, but I had to retire when I was 38. The value these kids put on education will determine what they do the next 40 years and I want to emphasize that."
With the media scrutiny facing today's McDonald's All-Americans, Mourning's goal with the Advisory Council is to help today's players make the best decisions they can.
"We are all products of our influences," Mourning said. "With all these gifts these kids have been given, they need to give back."