Kenyon Martin is coming off of a very successful summer. Martin who was the captain of team Trilogy won a Big 3 championship and earned a perfect record. That team featured former NBA’ers like Al Harrington and Rashad McCants.
Martin has always been respected in NBA lockerrooms for his energy and hard-scraping on the court. He’s also never been afraid to speak his mind.
Taking a walk down memory lane on Scoop B Radio, Martin discussed the time he and Alonzo Mourning had a war of words during a Nets morning shootaround.
According to Steve Popper and Lee Jenkins who were covering the Nets for the New York Times back then, Martin, then in his fourth season with the then-New Jersey Nets was mocking Mourning’s recent performance on the court and commenting that Mourning would not have to run if he would improve his rebounding, Mourning attacked Martin’s leadership and toughness.
Mourning had just signed with the Nets after his kidney disease cost him the season before and nearly the entire 2000-01 season. Mourning responded by telling Martin: ”At least I’m out there on the court, not in the training room. I’m trying to make the best of my time.”
‘You can’t be a leader in the trainer’s room crying, ‘My ankle, my ankle,’ ” Mourning added, referring to the sprained ankle that sidelined Martin for five games. Martin responded by mocking Mourning, muttering, ”My kidney, my kidney.”
Mourning did not immediately react to that comment. But when the players separated into groups for the next part of practice, he charged at Martin before being restrained by teammates, yelling: ”What did you say about my kidney? Don’t talk about my kidney. I’ll put you on your back.”
“It was one incident that we got into but it turned around,” Martin told me on Scoop B Radio.
“I think Alonzo looked at me like I should have been working as hard as he was in shootarounds and stuff. I was never a shoot around guy I was never like that. I have never understood the purpose of shoot arounds you know, just being honest. Why are we here? I’m just going to go home and go back to sleep. That was my thing.”
Martin’s perspective and Mourning’s grittiness came to a head that day. “Alonzo used to go dumb hard all the time because he was old school and he wants to go all the time,” said Martin.
“I guess I wasn’t doing that and I had sprained my ankle against Minnesota and I came back so we are practicing and it was an offensive rebounding drill and it’s me and RJ [Richard Jefferson] on the same team and him and whoever was on the other team. So we’re doing the drill or what not, so whoever gets the most offensive rebounds on the team’s got to run. However many rebounds you missed you had to do a round down and back or what not. So we are on the sideline laughing and joking and what not. They can’t keep us off the glass, but we were having a good time and it ain’t nothing fierce at that point.”
According to Martin, that’s where Alonzo Mourning got a bit riled up:
“So ‘Zo got mad and go at me and was like: ‘why don’t you go and get your ass off the training table.’ I was like: ‘who the hell you talking about brah?’ So me being who I am was like: ‘you gotta be worrying about your own, my exact words were ‘You gotta worry about your own mother f****** kids and stop worrying about me.’ He didn’t like that too much.”
So who won the fight? “We didn’t even fight, there was no punches thrown so it wasn’t like that,” said Martin.
Martin said former Net Aaron Williams was instrumental in diffusing the situation. “Aaron Williams said: ‘nah just let him go.”
“Like boy I have seen your fight with Larry Johnson and I’ll wear you out in here. I have seen your fight. So that’s all that was. So after the fact, what I [realized that what I] had said was hurtful and so I apologized to him. That never got noted that I apologized to the man. Like maybe I took it over the line, you know what I am saying? But at that time I wanted that action like you are coming at me for no reason.”