Tim Hardaway took the stage and told a story from his early days in the NBA, when Golden State teammates Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin often asked him the same question.
“They were like, ‘Tim, how awesome do you want to be?'” Hardaway said.
They have their answer. Everyone too. He’s a basketball immortal.
Hardaway, Manu Ginobili, Swin Cash, Bob Huggins, Del Harris, Lindsay Whalen, Marianne Stanley, Theresa Shank Grentz and George Karl all delivered their enshrinement speeches as new members of the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday night in Springfield, Massachusetts .
“A kid from east Chicago came all the way to Springfield, Massachusetts,” Hardaway said. “Unbelievable.”
This was the theme throughout the evening: how an honor that none of the new Hall members imagined has now come to them, each of them thanking those who helped them reach the top.
Ginobili was introduced by Tim Duncan, already a Hall of Famer himself, and next year legendary San Antonio Big 3 third member Tony Parker will be eligible for selection.
“Spurs were a big, strong and supportive family to me,” Ginobili said.
One day Spurs manager Gregg Popovich will also be in the room; the NBA’s all-time leader doesn’t want to be considered until his career is over. Ginobili gave him a special tribute.
“Dad, what can I say? You’ve been so, so important to me and my family, on and off the pitch, that I can’t thank you enough,” Ginobili said, his voice breaking. .
“One of the best players to ever play the game… One of the best teammates”
—NBA (@NBA) September 11, 2022
Cash – NCAA, WNBA and Olympic champion – also paid tribute to her coach at UConn, Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma and her Huskies teammates, including the group that went 39-0 in their senior season in 2001-02.
“If anyone is debating the greatest basketball team of all time, ask about us,” said Cash, who now works in the front office for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Duncan and Ginobili weren’t the only teammates in the building. Stanley and Shank Grentz were teammates at Immaculata in the 1970s, before embarking on a coaching career – and now, the Hall, together.
“It’s the privilege of a lifetime,” Stanley said.
Added Shank Grentz, who, like all inductees, learned of his selection in April: “I’m still overwhelmed.
Whalen, whose legendary playing career was followed by her return to Minnesota’s alma mater and training there, might have first had a Hall of Fame thanking a fast food company.
“Thank you, Burger King,” Whalen said.
To explain: When Whalen – a converted hockey player – went to her first basketball camp, she was anxious, crying, didn’t want to go to the gym. But her parents had paid for the camp and weren’t going to let her out, so negotiations quickly took place. The deal was eventually made; if Whalen was going to camp, she would have a Whopper Jr., with cheese, for the drive home.
“I ended up having a great time,” Whalen said.
Her parents did not want her to play hockey was her fate. For Harris, it was a teacher who encouraged him to take a year to coach a junior basketball team before joining the seminary.
Harris was going to be a pastor; ironically, the founder of basketball, Dr. James Naismith, was also a pastor. Instead, Harris followed another set of Naismith’s footsteps, as a coach.
“After this year, I knew what I wanted to do with my life,” said Harris, who has coached at just about every level imaginable – high school, college, NBA, international teams and at FIBA level.
His path to the Hall came from humble beginnings, as did Huggins – who now coaches at his alma mater, West Virginia, and has won more than 900 games during his college career – and Karl, who became emotional when he paid tribute to his college coach in North Carolina, Dean Smith, and laughed as he spoke of the challenge of coaching a Hall of Famer like Gary Payton.
“It’s really amazing for a guy from Penn Hills, PA,” Karl said. “It’s a ‘wow’ moment for me.”
Huggins even did a bit of coaching by paying tribute during his speech to Jerry Colangelo, the president of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.
“You have a right to clap, I think,” Huggins said. “I’m not really sure of the rules, but damn it, let’s do it as we go.”
Hardaway, Richmond and Mullin formed the trio known as Run TMC, which remains popular today. Mullin entered the Hall in 2011, Richmond three years later. And they were on stage Saturday night, seated just to the left of Hardaway, when his wait was finally over.
“Legendary, baby,” Hardaway said. “We were legendary.”
Seven other new Hall members, all deceased, were also honored: one of the NBA’s first black umpires in Hugh Evans; Six-time All-Star Lou Hudson; former coach Larry Costello; international great Radivoj Korac; and a trio of former Harlem Globetrotters in Wyatt “Sonny” Boswell, Inman Jackson and Albert “Runt” Pullins.
And a special tribute was paid to two-time Hall of Fame inductee Bill Russell, who did so as a player and then as a coach. Russell passed away earlier this year, and the ceremony on Saturday began with Hall of Famers Jerry West and Alonzo Mourning paying tribute to the 11-time champion.
“Bill was the ultimate competitor on the court and a remarkable human being off it,” West said. “And in his own way, he made every life he touched a little bit better. That’s why he will be missed, especially by those who were lucky enough to know him.”
Mourning added, who spoke about Russell’s work as a social justice champion: “Rest in power, my friend.”
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