Nine teams outplayed Paul Pierce in the 1998 NBA draft, and if you think you don’t remember each and every one of them, then you don’t know Paul Pierce.
The new inductee to the basketball Hall of Fame called the teams with the top nine picks that year by name, in order, and thanked them for allowing him to pass the Boston Celtics.
“I appreciate that. Thanks for stopping by. It added fuel to my fire,” said Pierce, who was expected to hit No. 2 overall, in his acceptance speech in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Saturday night. “To this day I don’t understand how I fell to No. 10. But you know it all happened for a reason. Going to the Celtics, I’m thankful.”
Four months after the pandemic-delayed induction of the Class of 2020, including Kobe Bryant, the Hall community came together to consecrate 16 more new members, their largest class to date. Many in the crowd wore masks; Lauren Jackson, a three-time WNBA MVP, was unable to attend because she was back in Australia locked up.
Bill Russell, who was inducted as a player in 1975, was honored for his coaching career; He is the fifth person to be admitted as a player and as a coach. But for former President Barack Obama, his most important role was what he accomplished off the field during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
“Bill Russell, perhaps more than anyone, knows what it takes to win and what it takes to lead,” Obama said in a video. “As tall as Bill Russell is, his example and his legacy rise much, much higher.”
Others who joined the Hall included: Villanova coach Jay Wright, Pistons defensive star Ben Wallace, two-time NBA champion Chris Bosh, longtime Portland and Sacramento coach Rick Adelman, All- Washington and Sacramento star Chris Webber 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 elected by the Early African American Pioneers Committee, Croatian and Chicago Bulls star Toni Kukoc was elected by the International Committee, Bob Dandridge by the Veterans Committee and Pearl Moore by the Veterans Committee of women.
Russell, 87, was honored as the first black coach in NBA history. Taking control of the Celtics from Red Auerbach in 1966 and remaining as a player-coach for two more years, Russell guided Boston to the NBA titles in 1968 and ’69.
Russell was present and wore a Celtics mask at the ceremony, but his speech was presented as a pre-recorded video.
“Hey Chris Weber, we’re going to the Hall of Fame with Bill Russell, bro,” Chris Bosh said. “That’s crazy.”
Bosh talked about his arrival in Miami, when Heat executive Pat Riley offered one of his NBA championship rings and said he could return it when they won one together; they won two, and Bosh finally returned the bauble on Saturday night.
– Basketball HOF (@Hoophall) September 12, 2021
Three key members of those Heat teams, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen, attended Saturday night.
Bosh also spoke about his departure, at the age of 31, when he was forced to retire due to blood clots.
“After finally reaching the top of the mountain with so much more to do, in my mind, so much more work to do, it all came to a halt,” he said. “Eventually I realized that we all have the power to make the most of each day regardless of what happens, to turn setbacks into strengths.”
Ackerman was the inaugural president of the WNBA, the first female president of USA Basketball, and, since 2013, the commissioner of the Big East. With few female role models to look up to in the sports business, he found one elsewhere.
“I am inspired to this day by the example of Billie Jean King,” Ackerman said, “and the many strong women and men who followed her in seeking to seize the opportunity to play sports and do it on a big stage, a reality. for the girls and women of our country and of our world. “
Kukoc chose Michael Jordan and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf as presenters and alluded to the tension over his arrival in Chicago that was exposed in the documentary “The Last Dance.”
“I would like to thank this gentleman here, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, for kicking my butt during the Barcelona Olympics, and thereby motivating me to work even harder to become an important part of the Chicago Bulls,” said.
Wallace was emotional and poetic in describing his upbringing as a great small-sized man who carved out a role for himself on defense, winning defensive player of the year four times.
“Basketball was not my life. Basketball was only in my life. I took basketball and created a path for those who helped me,” he said. “I took. I received. I gave back. I put a path. I put a clue. It should be easy to find, I was stuck in it for quite some time.”
He left the stage with his fist raised.
Wright’s speech touched on the history of Philadelphia basketball; Webber gave Detroit a salute. Dandridge told NBA o Proponents who went to major colleges despised him because he attended those who went to Norfolk State, a historically black school.
“My experience at HBCU schools was not limited to basketball,” he said. “I saw what it was like to have class. I witnessed dignity and a sense of belonging.”
Most of those incorporated thanked their families, teammates, and coaches who helped them along the way, but Ackerman also thanked James Naismith, who invented basketball.
And Moore appreciated the game itself.
“Basketball allowed me to travel the country and abroad to get a college degree,” he said. “And from shooting a makeshift hoop in the South Carolina backyard to playing the most famous stadium in the world, Madison Square Garden.
“And tonight, having my name enshrined with people like the ones sitting in the hallway is indeed a fairy tale come true.”