Nine teams went through Paul Pierce in the 1998 NBA Draft, and if you thought he didn’t remember every single one of them, you didn’t know Paul Pierce.
The newly inducted Basketball Hall of Famer called – in order – with the first nine teams that year and thanked them for allowing them to move to the Boston Celtics.
“I appreciate it. Thanks for passing on me. It added fuel to my fire,” former Inglewood High star Pierce, who was expected to go up to No. 2 overall, said in his acceptance speech Saturday night in Springfield, Massachusetts. said in. “Till today I don’t understand how I slipped at number 10. But you know that everything happened for a reason. Going to the Celtics, I’m grateful.”
“Thank you for passing on me and adding fuel to my fire.”
— NBA TV (@NBATV) September 12, 2021
Four months after the pandemic-delayed induction of the Class of 2020, including Kobe Bryant, the Hall community gathered to enlist 16 new members – the largest class ever. Many in the crowd wore masks; Three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson could not attend as she was back in Australia in lockdown.
Bill Russell, inducted as a player in 1975, was honored for his coaching career; He is the fifth person to join as both player and coach. But his biggest role for former President Barack Obama was the one he fulfilled on the court during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
“Bill Russell, probably more than anyone else, knows what it takes to win and what it takes to lead,” Obama said in a video. “As tall as Bill Russell stands, his example and his legacy are far and wide.”
Others who joined Hall were: two-time NBA champion Chris Bosch, Washington and Sacramento All-star Chris Webber, Villanova coach Jay Wright, Detroit Pistons defensive star Ben Wallace, longtime Portland and Sacramento coach Rick Edelman, Joe Pius X. Played in high Downey and Loyola Marymount, and two-time Olympic gold medalist Yolanda Griffith.
WNBA president Val Ackerman, longtime coach Cotton Fitzsimmons and Scouting pioneer Howard Garfinkel were included as contributors. Clarence “Fats” Jenkins was selected by the Early African American Pioneers Committee, Croatia and Chicago Bulls star Tony Kukoc was tabbed from the International Committee, Bob Dandridge from the Veterans Committee and Pearl Moore from the Women’s Veterans Committee.
Pierce, 43, was presented for induction by Celtics teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett.
“It is an honor, a true honour. I feel humbled and honored to be here tonight. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be a Hall of Famer,” Pierce said at the start of his speech “My initial dream as a kid was to make it to the league (NBA). Being eminent in basketball is more than I could have imagined.”
He had a group of family and friends with him for the ceremony, including his former college and high school coaches.
“The good thing is that I get to enjoy my family. My children are here. My best man is here. My high school coach (Patrick Roy) is here. My college coach (Roy Williams) is here. Everyone who saw the journey,” Pierce said. “The people who saw the blood, sweat, tears to get to this point, I got a chance to enjoy it. That’s what I’m most proud of. I enjoy it with people who saw the journey.
“I remember 11th grade, we were playing face to face on the side court, you always beat me young, but I finally got the best out of you. After that you told me… ‘You could be in the NBA’ .’ And you know, at the time I never thought about being in the NBA. I just wanted to go to college. You planted the seed. You made me believe. … The rest is history. I appreciate it. Thanks, Coach.
“You sowed the seed.”
Paul Pierce thanks his high school coach Patrick Roy for helping him realize he could play in the NBA. pic.twitter.com/oIIrL8p3ig
— NBA (@NBA) September 12, 2021
“Thanks to my college coach, Roy Williams, for teaching me the game of basketball. I came to Kansas as a McDonald’s American. I thought I knew everything. Come to find out. I didn’t know much. I didn’t even know how to come out of the down screen. …Thanks for always being honest with me. Every coach that came in promised me a starting position. You promised me an education. You Said, ‘I don’t know if you’re about to start.’ That’s why I trusted you.”
Russell, 87, was honored as the first black coach in NBA history. Taking over the Celtics from Red Auerbach in 1966 and remaining as a player-coach for two more years, Russell guided Boston to NBA titles in 1968 and ’69.
Russell was present and wearing a Celtics mask at the ceremony, but his speech was presented as a pre-recorded video.
“Hey, Chris Webber, we’re going to the Hall of Fame with Bill Russell, bro,” said Chris Bosch. “he’s mad.”
Bosch discussed his arrival in Miami, when Heat executive Pat Riley offered one of his NBA championship rings and said it could be returned when they won together; They won two, and Bosch finally returned the bauble on Saturday night.
And he discussed his departure at age 31, when he was forced to retire due to blood clots.
“Finally after mountaineering with so much to do with it, in my mind, so much work to do, it all stopped,” he said. “I finally realized that we all have the power to make the most of every day, no matter what, to turn failures into strength.”
Ackerman was the inaugural president of the WNBA, the first female president of USA Basketball and, since 2013, commissioner of the Big East. With a few female role models in the business of sports, she found another niche.
“I am inspired by the example set by Billie Jean King to this day,” Ackerman said, “and the many strong women and men who followed her in their quest to create an opportunity to play the sport and do it on a larger scale. The platform, our country and A reality for girls and women in our world.”
Kukoc selected Michael Jordan and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf as his presenters and pointed to tensions upon their arrival in Chicago that were laid bare in the documentary “The Last Dance”.
“I want to thank this gentleman, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, who kicked my butt during the Olympics in Barcelona, and thus inspired me to work even harder to be a vital part of the Chicago Bulls.” ,” They said. .
Wallace was emotional and poetic who described his upbringing as a sizable large man who played a role on the defence, winning the defensive player award four times.
“Basketball was not my life. Basketball was just in my life. I took basketball and I created a way for the people who helped me,” he said. “I took it. I received. I gave back I figured out a way. I laid the track. It should be easy to find, I was stuck with it for a long time.”
He left the stage with a clenched fist.
Wright’s speech touched on Philadelphia basketball history; Weber gave Detroit a shout out. Dandridge said that NBA opponents going to major colleges looked down on him because he went to the historically black schools, Norfolk State.
“My experience at HBCU schools was not limited to basketball,” he said. “I saw what it was like to have class. I saw a sense of dignity and belonging.”
Most inspirers thanked their families and teammates and coaches who helped them along the way, but Ackerman also gave a shout-out to James Naismith, who invented basketball.
And Moore thanked the game itself.
“Basketball made it possible for me to travel around the country and abroad, earning a college degree,” she said. “And from shooting on a makeshift hoop in the yard in South Carolina to playing at Madison Square Garden, the world’s most famous arena.
“And tonight, having my name inscribed with the likes of the people sitting in the hall is really like a fairy tale coming true.”