Friday, September 05, 2008

Highlights from A.D.'s Induction

Adrian Dantley was the first member of the Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2008 inducted this evening.

The emcee for the event, Mike Breen, introduced AD by saying one of the most difficult assignments in the NBA was to guard Adrian Dantley. While he was considered undersized, he said, AD's opponents were often overmatched. This "unstoppable offensive force" was one of the most dominant players of his time.

Following the introduction was a video montage detailing Dantley's career, including a number of tributes. Morgan Wootten described AD's offensive moves as being "like an eye surgeon, cutting the opponent up", and credited Dantley for starting DeMatha's High School's weight training program with his prescient interest in the philosophy. Former Irish coach Digger Phelps also mentioned Dantley's physical regimen and how he used jumping rope and other programs to keep his stamina at the necessary level to "take the pounding" in the low post.

George "Iceman" Gervin talked about Dantley's tireless work ethic and his knack for getting his defender off the ground. Joe Dumars echoed Gervin's comments, calling AD "the most disciplined player he ever met in his life", and talked about how he helped instill that discipline into the Piston team that won the NBA Championship two seasons later. "Focus, professionalism, and discipline ... [Dantley] embodied all those things."

Video complete, Coach Wootten escorted AD to the stage for his remarks.

He started by thanking the committee and congratulating his fellow inductees, especially Cathy Rush, with whom, he said, he had something in common: "We both waited [for induction] ... and waited ... and waited." (Rush was inducted on this, her sixth nomination. This was AD's seventh attempt)

He credited Morgan Wootten for his career. Under Wootten, he learned fundamentals, respect for the game, and the right way to play the game. "He has been my teacher, mentor, and friend."

He then introduced and gave his love to his family: his wife of 27 years, Dinitri; his son, Cameron ("he plays football, I'm not sure why"); and his daughters, Kalani and Kayla.

He talked about his mother, Virginia, and her effect on his life. "She instilled honesty, loyalty, and respect for yourself so you can respect others. She always said, 'Do not embarrass yourself or me in public.'"

But it wasn't all serious with mom. "She used to ask me what a rebound was. Now she wants to know who she should be plugging on the pick and roll."

He talked about other family members: his Aunt Rosie, his "number-two mom and number-one fan"; his grandmother, who "always told [him] to read with [his] third eye and listen with [his] third ear"; and his grandfather.

Then came people he'd emulated. Elgin Baylor's first step. Chet Walker's head- and pump-fake, which everyone always went for.

Following that, coaches he'd met. He met Red Auerbach, who told him, "Adrian, John Havlicek weighs 205 pounds. You should weigh 210." His best playing years, AD said, were played at 210 pounds.

Bob Knight, the first college coach he met, had AD demonstrate taking a charge and diving for loose balls. Knight told him, "If you work hard, you'll be a great player," and sent him his first recruiting letter as the head coach at West Point.

On weekends, AD would play on the DC playgrounds, and afterwards listen to John Thompson tell stories about basketball and life. He got to play for Thompson on the 1976 Olympic Team under the head coach, Dean Smith. Smith taught him to value every possession, which Dantley believes "must be a North Carolina thing" given how often George Karl says it to him today.

He talked about remaining steady and focused through changes and trades, and expressed his joy at finally being a member of a team that couldn't trade him.

He was told so often he was "too short, too fat, and too slow", and was warned that "short players make short money" (by a player who was 5'2"). But those people discounted his "brain, heart, and work ethic", all of which served him well.

He thanked his friends and extended family, and said it would be a day he would always cherish, and left the stage.

I'll have a full writeup on Irish Eyes on Monday, once the hoopla on SDSU dies down and before Michigan gets fully rolling. But this was a wonderful experience for him, and all Irish fans should be proud of their newest Hall of Famer.

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Anonymous craig said...

did AD mewntion his career at ND during his speech

9/06/2008 07:00:00 AM  

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