Nine teams passed on Paul Pierce in the 1998 NBA draft, and if you think he doesn’t remember each and every one of them, then you don’t know Paul Pierce.
The newly inducted basketball Hall of Famer called out by name — in order — the teams with the first nine picks that year and thanked them for allowing him to slip to the Boston Celtics.
“I appreciate that. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with me. It was a great help to me,” Pierce said. Pierce had been expected to be ranked No. In his acceptance speech, Pierce, who was ranked 2nd overall, stated this in Springfield, Massachusetts on Saturday night. “To this very day, I still don’t get how I got to No. 10. You know that everything happened for reasons. Thankful to the Celtics for allowing me to go.
Four months after the pandemic-delayed induction of the Class of 2020, including Kobe Bryant, the Hall community gathered to enshrine 16 more new members — its biggest class ever. Many people in the crowd wore masks. Lauren Jackson (three-time WNBA MVP) was unable to attend due to lockdown in Australia.
Bill Russell, who was first inducted as a professional player in 1975 was honored for his coaching achievements. He is now the fifth person to induct as both a coach or a player. Former President Barack Obama said that his greatest contribution was the work he did off the court during civil rights movements of the 1960s.
Obama spoke out in a video, “Bill Russell, perhaps most than anyone else knows what it means to win, as well as what it takes it to lead.” His legacy and example are far more impressive than Bill Russell, even though he stands tall.
Jay Wright, Villanova coach and defensive Pistons star Ben Wallace were among others inducted into the Hall. Rick Adelman was longtime Sacramento and Washington coach Rick Adelman and Chris Webber, Washington All-Star Chris Webber was also inducted. Yolanda, a two-time Olympic gold-medalist, was also inducted into the Hall.
Val Ackerman, Cotton Fitzsimmons (longtime coach), and Howard Garfinkel, WNBA president, were inducted as contributing members. Clarence “Fats” Jenkins, a member of the Early African American Pioneers Committee was inducted. Toni Kukoc (Chicago Bulls) and Bob Dandridge (Veterans Committee) were tabbed by International Committee. Pearl Moore was from Women’s Veterans Committee.
Russell, 87 years old, was named the first Black coach in NBA History. Russell, 87, was the first Black coach in NBA history. He took over the Celtics in 1966 from Red Auerbach and continued as a player-coach two years later. Russell led Boston to NBA championships in 1968 and 1969.
Russell was present at the ceremony wearing a Celtics mask, but his speech was recorded and presented as a prerecorded video.
“Hey, Chris Webber, we’re going into the Hall of Fame with Bill Russell, bro,” Chris Bosh said. “That’s crazy.”
Bosh talked about his arrival to Miami. Pat Riley, Heat executive offered Bosh one his NBA championship rings. Bosh said it could return when they won one together. They won two and Bosh returned the bauble Saturday night.
And he discussed his departure, at the age of 31, when he was forced to retire because of blood clots.
He stated, “After finally getting to the mountaintop with so many things to do and in my mind so much more work, it all ended.” “I realized that every day is a chance to make the best of it, no matter what. I can turn setbacks into opportunities.
Speeches of inspiration and thanks
Ackerman was the inaugural president of the WNBA, the first female president of USA Basketball and, since 2013, the commissioner of the Big East. She was in search of a female role model in the sports industry, as there were few.
Ackerman stated that Billie Jean King was her role model and that she inspired her to pursue the dream of making sports, on a big stage, possible for all girls in America and around the globe.
Kukoc selected Jerry Reinsdorf, Bulls owner, as his presenters. He also mentioned the tension that arose over his arrival in Chicago in “The Last Dance.”
“I’d like to thank Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan for their support during the Olympics in Barcelona. It was a great motivator to me to continue my pursuit of being an important member of the Chicago Bulls,” Kukoc said.
Wallace spoke poetically and emotionally about his childhood as a large, undersized man who found a place on defense. He was awarded defensive player of year four times.
“Basketball was not my passion. Basketball was only a part of my life. He said, “I took basketball and I made a path for those that helped me.” “I took. I got. I gave back. I laid a track. I made a track. It should have been easy to find, but I was stuck in the track for quite some time.
He raised his fist as he left the stage.
Wright spoke about Philadelphia’s basketball history. Webber shouted out to Detroit. Dandridge claimed that NBA opponents who attended major colleges looked down on him because he was from Norfolk State, which is historically Black.
He stated that his experience at HBCU colleges was more than basketball. “I experienced what it was like to be in class. I saw dignity, and a sense belonging.
Inductees often thanked their family, coaches, and teammates for helping them, but Ackerman also gave credit to James Naismith who invented basketball.
Moore thanked the game.
Moore said that basketball allowed her to travel around the country and to study abroad. “And from shooting in a yard in South Carolina to playing at Madison Square Garden, the most famous arena in the world, I was able to do so with a simple hoop.
“And tonight, having mine name inscribed among the likes of those seated in the hall is indeed fairy tale come true.
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