Sep 8, 2013
"Wow. This is amazing; the Hall of Fame. To say I'm delighted to be here would be an understatement. I simply want all the kids who are watching to know that anything you dream of and set a goal for can be achieved through hard work, dedication, the desire to achieve, and commitment."
"Dominique Wilkins, you are probably wondering why this man is here. I loved playing against you, Dominique, but I didn't like to guard you though. This Hall of Famer personified the golden era of small forwards in which I played. Every night it was a battle. Julius Erving, Larry Bird, Alex English, James Worthy, Marcus Johnson, Adrian Dantley, Mark Aguirre, and Kiki Vandeweghe all thrived in the 80's. Dominique, you were a dominate player. I loved competing against you as I shared. But heck, you were so courageous. I never knew what you were going to do. Thank you for being here."
"I stand before you on the shoulders of my ancestors. Even my great, great aunt Pearl who I spoke with when she was 103-years old at the time my daughter was born. I will never forget what she said to me. She said, `I'm happy you had a girl because a girl will grow up and give you grandkids and a boy would only disappoint.' Well Aunt Pearl, I'm in the Hall of Fame. I hope I didn't disappoint."
"I fell in love with basketball the first time I made a basket. I learned the city game and I would play every day. There were times during the winter I would clear an area on the court with my sneakers to remove the snow so I could shoot. I broke my right arm as a kid, but that was OK. I wouldn't be deterred from the game with neither a broken arm nor snow."
"Along the way there were coaches who helped me build bridges to my dreams. I had great coaching from my junior high school coach to my high school coach. Along the way there were exceptional human beings, people who cared about kids. Lester Roberts who owned a sporting goods store and would spend his own money to buy team uniforms and drive us to tournaments in Baltimore and other locations. Thank you Lester."
"Gil Reynolds, the coach who taught me the fundamentals of the game and to respect the game and your teammates. His favorite saying was, `Son you don't get two points for the way it looks'. Henceforth, my conservative and efficient game was developed."
"I would go on to attend the University of Tennessee. At Tennessee, I would team with a great player Ernie Grunfeld and play for a great coach in Ray Mears. I scored 42 points as a freshman at 17-years old. I was fortunate to team with Ernie Grunfeld. We had the best chemistry of any player I ever played with on any level."
"I entered the NBA Draft in 1977. I was drafted by the New Jersey Nets, playing for a wonderful coach in Kevin Loughery. I went on to play for a championship coach in Al Attles where I developed into an all-pro. In the fall of 1982, I became a free agent and signed a contract with the New York Knicks. I was home. New York City, what an unbelievable thrill. And to put on the same jersey as the Knick legends I watched as a kid was indescribable. Earl `The Pearl' Monroe, a player I watched growing up and was mesmerized by his uncanny moves. Willis Reed the captain, he exemplified courage, heart, determination, leadership and all the qualities I admired. Walt Frazier, all around excellence and always delivering in the biggest of moments. Bill Bradley, precision shooting, intangibles and always embodying the team game. Last but not least Dave DeBusschere, a great, great rebounder."
"I treasure playing for the Knicks and the great fans of New York. Some of you are here today. We were coached by one of the greatest in the game Hubie Brown who I learned so much from. He helped me ascend to a new level."
"In closing, I would like to thank former teammates particularly Darrell Walker who is here today. Darrel was a great defender and a very unselfish player. He is currently an assistant coach with the Knicks. Mike Woodson the excellent head coach of the Knicks, thank you for your support of my Hall of Fame candidacy. Carmelo Anthony, one of the best the game has ever seen. Thank you for your efforts to recognize my game, `Melo."
"In parting, I stood here for this moment of time because my parents showed me the value of hard work. I watched my mother clean our clothes on a scrub board, scrubbing each item piece by piece. She would hang the clothes on a clothes line that hung over my bed. At night, droplets of water would land on my head. My wife and best friend, you never saw me play and I happen to like that. I love you. Thank you for giving us the love of our lives, our daughter Amina. A very bright, loving and respectful child at 15-years old."
"Finally, thank you to NBA commissioner David Stern who has guided the NBA ship to new heights. I am glad to be a part of the NBA family. To the Hall of Fame, Jerry Colangelo and the election committee, this is a moment in time I will never forget."
"To my documentary crew, I have to mention them. Director Jason Hehir and producer Roy Johnson who is here today knows more about me then he cares to know. Thank you."
"In parting, I woke up this morning with reflection on my heart. I went to YouTube and I put on a video of a song that is dear to my heart. It is a gospel song by the great Marvin Sapp. I thought it was appropriate for this moment. The title is `I Never Would Have Made It'. Here are some lyrics: Never would have made it / Never could have made it without you / I would have lost it all / But now I see how you were there for me / When I look back over what he brought me through / I never would have made it without you / You were there through the storms to carry me through my mess / I am stronger, I am wiser, I am better. Aunt Pearl, I made it. I made it. Mom and dad, I made it. I made it. Thank you."