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Mourning About Ready To Fly Home

September 20, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Alonzo Mourning will leave Australia after the U.S. men’s basketball team’s game against Lithuania and fly home to Miami to be present for the birth of his daughter.

His trip halfway around the world will be followed by another trip halfway around the world when he returns to the Olympics next Monday.

``My wife said she’d let me go to the Olympics on one condition _ that I come back for my daughter’s birth,″ a nervous Mourning said Wednesday. ``I made the deal with her.″

Mourning originally had planned to charter a G-5 Gulfstream jet for the trip, but balked at the $250,000 cost and instead decided to take a commercial flight to Los Angeles and then transfer to the Miami’s Heat’s charter plane. That plane will transport him, his 4-year-old son Trey and his mother-in-law across the continental United States.

His daughter, who will be named Myka Sydney, will be delivered by induced labor Saturday _ but only if nature doesn’t take its course sooner. Mourning’s wife, Tracy, already has begun having mild contractions.

``I’m sure she’s ready to drop,″ Mourning said. ``The last few days, the last week, the anxiety builds up so much. It’s hard to imagine what she’s going through _ especially with us not being there.″

Mourning, who has been on the road with the team since Aug. 23, has been calling his wife twice a day to check on her condition.

Before he left Miami, his wife’s doctor said labor could be induced any time between Sept. 17 and Sept. 23, and the couple chose the latter end of that window. The child will be their second.

``I take my hat off to him,″ teammate Steve Smith said. ``It’s a big decision whether to play in the Olympics and leave your family. Both are so important to him.″

Like many members of the team, Smith has his family with him in Australia. His wife and 17-month-old son are staying with him at the team hotel in Parramatta, several miles outside Sydney.

``Without my family I couldn’t do it,″ Smith said. ``You miss so much of seeing them grow up during the season, you don’t want to miss any more during your summers.″

Mourning has kept his son busy by playing tourist during his idle hours, including taking him to a petting zoo to see kangaroos up close.

The American team will play Lithuania on Thursday, and Mourning plans to leave Friday morning. He estimates he’ll have about 36 hours to spend in Miami, and he plans to stay awake for all of it and catch up on his sleep on his return trip to Sydney. He will miss games against France and New Zealand, two of the weakest teams in Bracket A.

Mourning’s first game as a father of two will come next Wednesday in the quarterfinals against the fourth-place team from Bracket B.

``I think my teammates can hold down the fort without me,″ he said.

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