Basketball HOF induction roundup: Speeches from 2021 class
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame welcomed its class of 2021 on Saturday as Chris Webber, Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, and Ben Wallace were among the notables enshrined in Springfield.
Webber played 15 seasons in the Association, starring for the Sacramento Kings from 1998-2005. The former No. 1 overall pick earned five All-Star selections, five All-NBA nods, and Rookie of the Year honors during his illustrious career. Webber featured for Michigan's "Fab Five" squad before embarking for the NBA, leading the Wolverines to a pair of national championship games.
Pierce's jersey number is among 22 retired by the Boston Celtics. He's the franchise's all-time leader in numerous categories, including 3-pointers, steals, and free throws. Only John Havlicek has scored more points in a Celtics jersey. The 6-foot-7 wing made 10 All-Star teams and was the Finals MVP during the club's last championship run in 2008.
Bosh was part of the famous 2003 draft class that featured LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade. He quickly established himself as the face of the Toronto Raptors in the post-Vince Carter era and was an All-Star in five of his seven seasons north of the border. He joined the Miami Heat in free agency in 2010 and played a critical role in their 2012 and 2013 championships.
Wallace went undrafted out of college and was relatively anonymous before finding a home with the Detroit Pistons in 2000. It was in the Motor City where Wallace blossomed into a four-time All-Star and one of the game's premier rim-protectors and rebounders. The 6-foot-9 center and Dikembe Mutombo are the only four-time winners of the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Russell became the fifth man to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as both a player and coach. The 87-year-old was recognized Saturday for his stints as a bench boss with the Celtics, Seattle SuperSonics, and Sacramento Kings. Russell posted a career record of 341-290 in the regular season and won a pair of titles during his three-year tenure as Boston's head coach.
Kukoc was an integral part of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the mid-to-late '90s, averaging 14.1 points, 4.8 boards, 4.2 assists, and 1.1 steals over seven seasons in the Windy City. The Croatian won three NBA titles and Sixth Man of the Year honors during his NBA professional career. He also earned three EuroLeague Final Four MVP awards while overseas.
Adelman achieved success at various stops during his 23-year head coaching career. He guided the Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, and Houston Rockets to multiple playoff appearances, including two trips to the Finals as the Blazers' bench boss. The California native registered 11 campaigns of 50 wins or more and ranks ninth on the NBA's all-time wins list.
Villanova has been a perennial Big East contender under Wright's guidance, capturing a pair of national championships and eight conference regular-season titles over 20 seasons. The 59-year-old is a two-time Naismith College Coach of the Year winner. He holds a 490-189 mark with the Wildcats and has recorded only five sub-.500 campaigns during his career.
Griffith is widely considered one of the top rebounders and defensive players in women's basketball. She spent most of her WNBA career with the Sacramento Monarchs, earning eight All-Star nods and five All-WNBA selections. The former No. 2 overall pick received league MVP honors in 1999 and won the Finals MVP award during the Monarchs' lone title run six years later.
Ackerman served as the WNBA's inaugural president, providing leadership and stability during the league's infancy. After a nine-year run, she became the first female president of USA Basketball. Ackerman became Big East commissioner in 2013 and has kept the conference as a basketball power over her tenure.