Friday, September 05, 2008

Presser-ing Thoughts

The intro and discussion is complete.

The six inductees present were introduced in alphabetical order, meaning A.D. was the first one on the stage. The emcee, Eddie Doucette, read a quick bio on each member of the class, who then proceeded to the stage, was presented with his/her blazer, had some pictures taken, and then took a seat. Kudos to A.D. for being the only one who wore a tie, meaning he looked especially sharp with the blazer ensemble. Patrick Ewing was dressed like he'd just come in off the beach. Come on, Pat, it's the HOF.

Each inductee then got up to say a few words. Most of them went through what would be considered a typical statement, thanking their families, coaches, players, teammates, and God, not necessarily in that order. But there were a few chuckles.

A.D. and Pat Riley both reminisced about A.D.'s Laker days. At that time, Riley was a Costanza-like traveling secretary with the team, and was in charge of boarding passes for the planes. Invariably, A.D. would find himself seated next to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He complained to Riley because Kareem wasn't big on talking during flights. Riley replied, "I have to sit you there, Adrian, you're the only one who isn't afraid of him."

Hakeem Olajuwon reflected that growing up in Nigeria, he didn't have the knowledge or the appreciation for what the HOF really was. He focused on winning, and it was the winning that got him here.

Riley said he always believed in the philosophy Magic Johnson espouses: Keep your dreams big and your worries small. He said he feels some players were born to get to the Hall of Fame, but he was able to get there because of the help and support of those people.

Cathy Rush talked about how the HOF was never something she dreamed, but was certainly a dream come true. Back in her day, women's basketball was an afterthought, and she took the job at Immaculata "to have something to do while [her husband] was out refereeing". The job wasn't supposed to be anything. She grew up when girls didn't have dreams, but now have "an equality of dreams", for which she was very thankful.

Dick Vitale was, of course, his usual effusive self. He said his throat is doing much better, although he's headed to Boston after the induction to get another checkup just to be sure. He remembered back when he and Eddie Doucette were partners, when he warned him, "Eddie, I hope you're not getting paid by the word, because by the time I'm done, you won't make a dime." He warned the HOF CEO, John Doleva, he wasn't going to be able to work with a five-minute window in speeches tonight because "I can't say 'hello' in five minutes!" And he said the best thing that ever happened to him was meeting his wife. I know he gets a lot of flack on NDN and elsewhere, but if there's a more genuine person in college basketball than Dick Vitale, I haven't met him.

The biggest thing I noticed about the class was their camaraderie. All of them played for, with or against one another, and all have strong relationships off the court as well as on. They spent more time talking about each other than they did themselves, something Riley pointed out to me later as being "necessary for events like this, but easy when it's people like this".

The pep rally is going on as we speak, but I declined since I was trying to get this done. The media work area is a theater where the event will be shown tonight. I don't know if I'll be watching it in here or in there.

The pre-event reception starts about 5:30. Mike Brey and Morgan Wootten and Digger Phelps will be in attendance, and I'm going to try to get quotes from them for the Irish Eyes stories I'll eventually write about the event. I'll try to check in later this afternoon, but definitely tonight with a report on the induction itself. The IE story probably won't get posted until Monday, since I don't want it to get lost in all the SDSU post-game hoopla.

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