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Jun 09

NBA Stars Exemplify Family – Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli

NBA Stars Exemplify Family

By Anthony Bonelli

 

     When I arrived at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the President of the National Basketball Hall of Fame, John Doleva, shook my hand and said “Welcome Back”.  When entering the Hall of Fame, I looked up at the ceiling at all the Pictures and said “Wow! I can’t believe I’m back again”.  This was my second year participating and attending the Basketball Hall of Fame.  I was overcome with emotion because I’ve watched so many of these players and coaches growing up, and to actually meet them is a dream come true.

The Inductees each have their own special talents that made them Hall of Famers.  Many players and coaches could be qualified to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but these 10 people have unique abilities to encompass the qualities that make Hall of Fame status.  The 2011 Basketball Hall of Fame Class included: Teresa Edwards, Artis Gilmore, Herb Magee, Chris Mullin, Dennis Rodman, Arvydas Sabonis, Tom “Satch” Sanders, Reece “Goose” Tatum, Tara VanDerveer and Tex Winter

The current Hall of Fame honorees welcome the new class into the Hall of Fame.  Bill Walton said “There is no place I’d rather be, than here to welcome Arvydas Sabonis into the Hall of Fame”.  It was evident throughout the weekend that the mantra of the Hall of Fame is “Family”.

The 2011 National Basketball Hall of Fame class included players and coaches from all facets of the game.  The hall of fame weekend took place August 13th-15th in Springfield Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball.  The energy was amazing, and as each inductee was giving their acceptance speeches they were all filled with emotion and respect for each other and the talents that got them there.

The weekend kicked off with the Jacket ceremony where all the Hall of Famers received their Commemorative Blue Blazers.  Teresa Edwards said jokingly in her acceptance speech, “Dennis Rodman better not look better than me in a dress”, which set the tone for the family atmosphere and adoration that everyone felt for each other.

All the players and coaches that I grew up watching were in reach.  I had opportunities to speak directly with some of my idols; like Chris Mullen, a St. Johns alumni, who still couldn’t answer how Rutgers (my alma mater) could get their 1.7 seconds back in the Big East Tournament.  In an exclusive interview with Teresa Edwards, she said that Julius Irving and Michael Jordan were her biggest inspiration throughout her childhood and career.  If you “tear out all three hearts and put them on the table you won’t be able to tell who loves the game more”.  Dennis Rodman said in his enshrinement speech “He never played the game for the money”; and, went on to say that, “Phil Jackson was like a father to him”.   Artis Gilmore said “from the background that he came from, he never expected to be in the same sentence with some of the NBA greats”.  Herb Magee said “The greatest thing as a coach is watching kids mature as players and people”.

These individuals are so down to earth; it is unbelievable. They appreciate why they are there and understand what an honor the accomplishment is.  Watching these professional and collegiate superstars shed their game attire and faces, and speak as people with such emotion and passion, is one of the greatest things that you could ever see. I never thought I would ever see actually Dennis Rodman break down and cry in his speech. I actually thought something was wrong with him.  I just never expected it.

The humor through the weekend, just like in any other family gathering, was apparent.  Dennis Rodman had 5 outfits, one for every event; and one was more outrageous than the other.  He is so loved by his fans that someone actually dressed up in a wedding dress to support him.   The comments from other Rodman supporters were only privy to those attending the events and not necessarily appropriate for this reporter to comment on; you know, keep it in the “family”.    I looked up to these individuals because of the way they played and conducted themselves on the court; but, now I have a new appreciation for who they are as people.

I also have a new respect for what it takes to be a professional athlete and coach.  These men and women give 110% to be the best.  Some individuals are unable to experience their enshrinement; because they are enshrined posthumously; such, as Reece Tatum; who was a Harlem Globetrotter Great.

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the Baseball and Football hall of Fames as well as the Basketball Hall of Fame; the Basketball Hall of Fame has the most energy, and every attendee feels the magic as if you were accepting the award yourself.