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April 1, 2017
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Class of 2017
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the 2017 class for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Some members not with us today recognized posthumously are: A gentleman who played from the Early African-American Pioneers Committee, played with the New York RENS and the Harlem Globetrotters, Mr. Zack Clayton.
The legendary executive who built the great Chicago Bulls teams, won six championships, Jerry Krause, also being recognized posthumously.
And two gentlemen who will be with us on September 8th when we have enshrinement in Springfield, Massachusetts, the greatest player in Greek basketball history, All-America out of Seton Hall, Nikos Galis, from the International Committee.
And from the Veterans Committee, a great player from the Indiana Pacers in both the ABA and the NBA, Mr. George McGinnis, will be joining the Class of 2017.
We look forward to welcoming all those folks together in September for the enshrinement event.
The folks who are joining us here on stage, we're so happy to have them all with us, beginning on the far end, the remarkable coach from the University of Notre Dame, Coach Muffet McGraw.
Sitting next to Coach McGraw, we have a great player, two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady.
As we just talked about, she joined UConn before UConn was cool, lady helped build the UConn dynasty and launched the WNBA, Rebecca Lobo.
The remarkable coach, University of Kansas, Coach Bill Self.
For 38 years he worked at the NCAA and helped build this event, frankly, that we're all joined today into what it is, Mr. Tom Jernstedt.
Gentleman who was the first African-American scholarship All-American at the University of Illinois and the owner of the Harlem Globetrotters and the former president of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Mannie Jackson.
And finally, the remarkable coach from Texas, the winningest coach in men's high school basketball history, with 1333 victories, Coach Robert Hughes.
Q. Coach McGraw, just your emotions when you got the call, what your thoughts were when John Doleva, the president of the Hall of Fame, called to deliver you the good news.
MUFFET MCGRAW: It was a very emotional moment and I was home waiting for the call. And when it came in, I was priming myself for disappointment. It had been a very disappointing week for us.
So when he said you're in, I was overcome. I mean, I wanted to weep. I was just so close to tears. And my husband came in, we just had just a really special moment between the two of us.
TRACY MCGRADY: I was sitting home, by myself. I know you hate me telling this story, but my wife had went out and I was sitting at the kitchen table watching TV. And I got the call. And I couldn't believe it. So I had him repeat it again. And tears of joy.
And I did get emotional. I did start crying, I'll tell you that. I was trying to call my wife once I got off the phone, but my eyes were so watery and I was so nervous I was opening up every app on my phone but the right one to make a call.
But it was -- a lot of emotion just flowed through my body and this is a very humbling experience, and I'm excited to be here.
REBECCA LOBO: Similar situation, I'm home in my kitchen alone, which actually, when you have four young children, is a blessing. And I got the call and, again, was just beside myself with surprise and excitement.
And when I got off the phone I just, in particular, thought about my mom, because this would have -- my mom passed away in 2011 -- this just would have been something she dreamed of a lot more than I ever did. But I know she's happy and I knew she was happy then, and just very gratifying feeling.
BILL SELF: Well, I wasn't alone at home. But I was alone in my car. And I was literally getting ready to pull into the office parking garage. And I got a call from John. So instead of pulling in, I went straight and I turned right on a road. I just thought of this, right when he was talking to me I was on Naismith Drive.
And so I was overcome as well. And I thought I was prepared either way and been fine with either way. And certainly proud. But I was overcome as well. I had to pull off the road and visit.
But the thing that I think hit me the soonest was the journey. And certainly how many people have played a significant role in helping me and putting me in a position. And the more I thought about that, the list just grows and grows and grows. And certainly very humbled by it.
TOM JERNSTEDT: I was on an airplane, it was about to lift off. And I rarely answer a telephone when I'm on an airplane. But I saw it was Mr. Doleva, and I thought he might have something that he needled help with here in Phoenix with regard to whatever. So I reluctantly picked it up and was stunned and overwhelmed to receive the message that I did.
MANNIE JACKSON: I don't recall where I was, but I returned the call to Jerry Colangelo. And the interesting thing about getting the call from Jerry, we talk frequently. Either I want some help from him, or he calls me about something that is kind of routine that we talk to each other.
And he started babbling about the Hall of Fame. And then I think we both probably teared up and we started talking about our journey of so many years where we started, and he made the comment about my career change, being in basketball and then spending 20-plus years in the corporate world and owning the Harlem Globetrotters and those things that were kind of unique to our mutual experience.
And when we hung up. And, Jerry, I have to confess, I was kind of stunned. I'm still kind of stunned as to what this is all about. I understand the pyramid concept of life and we're at the top of the pyramid right now. So I'm still thinking about it, still processing it, I should say.
ROBERT HUGHES: I don't know where to start. I think the moment I was informed by my son -- because I had been there so many times and came up empty. And so whenever he called and let me know about something, why don't you take care of that, why don't you call and find out? You know, that's pretty good? But once I was satisfied with that information, then I told him, yeah, I'll just go for it. You can be my escort. You see me feeling around, that means I'm lost.
Q. You've spoken, and Coach Self just spoke quite eloquently, and all of you individually or together have spoken the last day or so about the journey. And when we get to September 8th, on enshrinement night in Springfield, Massachusetts, as you look back on the journey is there someone you'll be thinking of specifically as you look at the journey?
MUFFET MCGRAW: Life is an amazing journey. And there are so many people along the way that have helped me in so many different ways. And it's a great time to reflect back on all of them. I think about my dad who passed away a few years ago, who was probably my biggest fan. And my mom who is 92. And I'm hoping she will be there in September. But for me, my husband has been with me through every single step of my journey, and he's the one that I'm most excited to share this with.
TRACY MCGRADY: For myself, I have to think of Sonny Vaccaro and Pam Vaccaro. When I was 17 years old, they found me in a small town in Florida. In high school no one knew who I was outside of Florida. And Sonny Vaccaro found me. He invited me to his basketball camp where the top players in the nation come and participate in his camp and spoiled -- brought me in and he put me on his arm. He made sure this guy out of this small town that nobody had a clue of, and he made sure that I was comfortable and took great care of me that whole weekend. And leaving that basketball camp of Sonny Vaccaro, I was the No. 1 player in the nation when I left there. And from that point on he mentored me all the way out through my career.
And I called him yesterday and talked to him and told him the good news. And I couldn't have a conversation with him because he was just overflowing with a lot of emotion. So I had to have a conversation with Pam. But Sonny is my guy.
REBECCA LOBO: I'm fortunate in that I grew up so close to Hall of Fame. So all the people I care about will be there, and the one who can't, who I'll be thinking of, is my mom. She was the one, when I was a kid and signed up to play basketball, and they called the house and said there's not enough for a girl's team, Rebecca can't play. She said, no, you have to let her play on the boys team. She was always there supporting me and I'll be thinking of her every step of the way.
BILL SELF: I would say with me, there's been so many. Of course my family, first and foremost, and with that being said, my mother and father. My sister and myself was very spoiled, not knowing it at the time, that we had a chance to sit across the dinner table from the best role models a kid could have every night.
And certainly so proud of all the sacrifices that they've made and so many have made to put me in a position to chase my dream. And certainly I also think of all the players, the great ones and the not so great ones, that have sacrificed so much because they believed in what we've been doing and all the assistant coaches as well that have basically performed at such a high level that gave us a chance.
TOM JERNSTEDT: I'd say the outpouring from friends and family have been remarkable. But I also think back to, if you played the game of basketball at a high level and you coached at a high level, you have dreams maybe of some day being in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. But when you're a broken-down basketball player at one point in my young life and football as well, I never would have had this in the back of my mind at all.
But I was fortunate to work at the University of Oregon, and then I ended up at the NCAA after we had hosted the NCAA Track and Field Championships. And I think back to my football coach, even though I was a weak-arm, slow-foot quarterback, he was the gentleman that became my athletic director and gave me the opportunity to go back to Oregon and work on the administrative position. And then three years later joined the NCAA.
But being a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, because of my background, is something that I never even dreamed about. So I'm still overwhelmed.
MANNIE JACKSON: I think of my teammate Govoner Vaughn from back in the day. We were recruited to desegregate the University of Illinois, and how intimidating that was. And I wish he were here to celebrate with me.
I think about my mom and dad who are both gone. And I have to confess, this is probably -- I was thinking last night, this is probably my sixth or seventh Hall of Fame I've been a part of. And I think I process those. This I'm having trouble processing. I just, I tell you, I don't quite know what it means. I'm flattered. I'm staggered by it and the implications of it mean so much. So many people who have helped me through my life. I'm still processing the whole thing. And I think I'll have it in perspective probably in maybe a week or so. But I'm honored to be here.
ROBERT HUGHES: This is going to be a long process for me, more or less. Because, like I said, I've been there before. But the conditions now are much better. And, again, if you hear Robert Hughes, it might not be me it might be Robert Hughes Jr., because he's the guy that calls most of the shots. He's been there with me from the time he was about as high as a small dog. He's been there from birth up until now. So I just more or less -- why don't you check this, this, this. I don't even know what he's checking. But evidently he's on the right highway. And that's how it is.
Q. There's like three or four pages in the Kansas media guide about Kansas coaches, players, administrators who are in the Naismith Hall of Fame. I'm just wondering, can you share what that means to you, to be among one of those, in that group?
BILL SELF: Well, I really believe the most special thing about coaching at Kansas is to be a part of maybe as tradition-rich program as there is in college basketball. Of course it all started with Dr. Naismith being our first coach.
When you think about -- I've got a picture in my office with Dr. Allen, Phog Allen, the father of basketball coaching, as head coach. And sitting next to him was his assistant, James Naismith. And sitting behind him was a point guard named Adolph Rupp.
There's not many places that can do that. When I came to Kansas I realized I'm not going to be the best coach that coached there. Phog Allen did. And anybody we recruit to be the player there will play there. Wilt played there.
And so to be part of something that's so much bigger than an individual ever will be, and to be -- your role while you're there is to be a caretaker. Something that is much bigger than yourself is something I've always taken unbelievable pride in.
Q. Tracy, you've obviously had a great deal of success in your career. You also know better than anybody that you took a lot of hits. Is this a day of vindication?
TRACY MCGRADY: Absolutely. I told Jerry last night, when we were all meeting and there was a ring in this room. And I looked at this ring. And it was huge.
And I told them that I never won a championship. I never had the opportunity to play for a championship. But this is my championship. This is everything that I wanted to play for with this game that I love. Started at a young age. Today certified my basketball career, bar none.
THE MODERATOR: I should mention the ring that Tracy refers to, by Zales, is sitting over here next to the beautiful jacket, The Hall of Fame jacket, presented by Haggar that all of these folks will be getting this September at the Hall of Fame, together with that spire. The spire represents the spire in front of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Q. Bill, just as you're at this reflective time, can you speak to why you coach? What is it you get out of coaching? What drives you? And here you are, you've got some years in front of you, but you've already had this achievement. What sparks you now?
BILL SELF: I think more than anything what sparks me is competition. I love the competition. I love being in tough moments, knowing that we're not always going to finish on top. I love coaching young men that basically put both feet in and trust you to the point where they'll do just about anything you ask them to do. And trying to get teams to play and compete as close to what their ceiling is as you possibly can. And I think that's a challenge every day.
I also think about the game. The more you think you know, the more you realize you don't know. Because the game changes daily. It changes yearly and the challenge of always trying to become better is much more significant than what I think a lot of people out there think it is.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined on stage by my boss, John Doleva, the president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame, and Hall of Famer and Chairman of the Board, Jerry Colangelo. Jerry, what are your thoughts as you think about the Class of 2017 newly named this morning?
JERRY COLANGELO: It's a great class. Last night at our dinner, we talked about family and the passion everyone here represents in terms of the game of basketball, a game that we all believe is the greatest game in the world.
And so we welcomed all of them into the family, if you will, of a little over 300 who are enshrined at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. We're excited to have them.
I know you can tell by some of the emotion, you can feel it, we certainly did last night when each of them shared their story about their journey, and we're just excited to have this group.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports