Last night was not one more for basketball. In Springfield – the one in Massachusetts – basket legends gathered to experience one of the most important moments of their sports careers, that of their inclusion in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
At that ceremony, held just four months after the one that crowned Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, 16 new members were consecrated, the largest class to date. Paul Pierce, Bill Russell (as coach), Ben Wallace, Toni Kukoc, Chris Bosh, Chris Webber, Villanova coach Jay Wright, Rick Adelman, two-time Olympic medalist Yolanda Griffith, first WNBA president Val Ackerman, the coachCotton Fitzsimmons, the pioneer in scouting Howard Garfinkel and the historical former players and female playerClarence ‘Fats’ Jenkins, Bob Dandridge and Pearl Moore. They were the consecrated ones in 2021.
Pierce, the green heartbeat
To speak of the Boston Celtics between the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries is to speak of Paul Pierce. The forward fought with the Massachusetts organization until achieving the long-awaited championship ring in 2008 with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Just the first of them accompanied him last night in his entrance to the Hall of Fame, which he did remembering that he was a number 10 in the draft and thanking that the previous nine teams will forget about him.
“I appreciate it. Thanks for letting me pass. It added more fuel to my fire ”, he commented after naming the nine franchises and continuing to assure that he does not know how it could happen. “To this day I don’t understand how I fell to number 10. But you know that everything happened for a reason. Going to the Celtics… I’m grateful. “
Russell, player and coach
Bill Russell, the legend of the 11 rings, was obviously already in the Hall of Fame, but since last night he took another step by being the fifth person to be inducted as a player and coach. Being the first head coach black in NBA history, he took over from Red Auerbach and led Boston to the 1968 and 1969 rings.
Putting aside his enormous category as an athlete, former United States President Barack Obama wanted to remember his important work off the field during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. “Bill Russell, perhaps more than anyone, knows what you need to win and what it takes to lead. As tall as Bill Russell is, his example and his legacy rise much higher. “
Bosh, dream and nightmare
Chris Bosh received a more than deserved award. Fantastic years of basketball and two rings with the Miami Heat contemplate him, but in the same way his story will always be linked to that forced retirement at 31 years old when blood clots were detected. Last night, counting on the presence ofLeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen, recalled how important it is to enjoy every moment of life.
“After finally reaching the top of the mountain with much more to do, and knowing that I had a long way to go, everything came to a halt. 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. “
American women’s basketball was somewhat amateurish in the early 1990s. It wasn’t until the Atlanta 96 celebration that the foundations of what we now know as the WNBA were laid. Within that path and in her later growth, a woman had a leading role who last night saw her great work recognized when she entered the Hal of Fame. We talk aboutVal Ackerman, who was the first president of the WNBA, the first female president of USA Basketball and, since 2013, the commissioner of the Big East. In her presentation she wanted to highlight the role of those women who have made others understand that anything is possible.
“To this day I am inspired by the example of Billie Jean King, as well as by the many strong women and men who follow in his footsteps in the quest to take advantage of the opportunity to play sports and do it on a big stage; something that today is a reality for girls and women in our country and in our world ”, he says.
Kukoc, the Balkan touch
Toni Kukoc sounds like a classic, at the 80s and 90s, like basketball. His NBA career began in 1993, but by then he had already been three times European champion … Last night, in the presence of Michael Jordan and the owner of the Bulls, Jerry Reinsdorf – he chose them as presenters – he winked at the documentary The Last Dance regarding its appearance in it.
“I would like to thank this gentleman here, Michael Jordan, and Scottie Pippen, for kicking my butt during the Barcelona Olympics, thereby motivating me to work even harder to become an important part of the Chicago Bulls. ”.
(Photograph by Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)