Thank you! Thank you!
I told my friends I would come here to say “thank you” then walked off.
I can’t, it’s no way. I get so many people I can thank.
In all the videos, you never just saw me, also Scottie Pippen and the championship we won.
I’ve got a lot of questions over the last four weeks.
Anybody says “well, why do you pick David Thompson?”
I know why, David knows why and maybe you guys don’t know.
But as I grow up in North Carolina, I was eleven years old, 1974, I think,
when David won the championship.I hated North Carolina, but I ended up in North Carolina.
But I was in love with David Thompson, not just for the game basketball,
but in terms of what he represented.
You know, we all, as David says or said we go through trails and tribulations.
And he did, and I was inspired by him.
And when I called him and asked him to stand up for me, I know I shocked a shoot out of him.
I know I did.
But he is very kind to say, ”Yeath, I’ll do it.”
That is not disrespect to the North Carolina guy;
we all know I am true blue North Carolina guy to the heart.
Coach Smith, Larry Brown, Sam Perkins, James Worthy, you know all of those guys.
I’d like to start to my parents.
You guys see all the I-likes.
What is about me that you guys don’t know?
As I set up here and watch all the other guys give their history.
So many things I didn’t know about Jerry Sloan.
And we lived on the phone, but I didn’t know he was in a small class from the first grade to the eighth grade.
Even David Robinson, I have known David for some time.
You know, but I found some things, good things or bad things about him that I didn’t know.
And Chipson, I’ve known Chipson for years.
My father and my mother spent a lot time with Mike and found out good things about her,
but what about me that you guys don’t know?
I got two brothers, James and Larry, five four and five five in height.
They give me all I could ever ask for.
As brothers, in terms of competition.
My brother Larry is an ideal situation with small things coming with small packages.
This do fall me every single day.
To the extend that my mother used to come out and make us come in because we were fighting way too much.
My older brother was always gone.
He is served in the army for 31 years.
And the competition didn’t stop there.
My sister who is one year younger than me, never want to be alone by herself.
She took classes, extra classes, graduated from high school with me,
to go to university North Carolina with me, and to graduate fairer than me.
And you guys wanna know where my competition nature comes from, it came from them, it came from my older sister and she is not here today.
My father who is not here today, obviously he is with us, all of us.
My competitive nature has gone a long way from the first time I picked up any sports, baseball, football, run-track, basketball, anything in this class I played.
They started to fire me; you know that fire started from my parents.
As I moved on my career, people add wood to that fire.
Coach Smith, what can I say about him? He is a legendary coach.
Lerold Smith, now you guys think that’s a mistake.
Lerold Smith was the guy when I got kicks he got picked in the team.
He is here tonight. He is still the same six seven guy.
He is not even bigger. His level is even about the same.
But he started the whole process for me, because when he made the team and I didn’t,
I wanted to prove, not just to Lerold Smith, not just to myself,
but to the coach who actually picked Lerold over me.
I want to make sure he understood you made a mistake, dude.
Buss Peterson, My roommate.
When I first met Buss, all I heard about was that this kid from Ashville North Carolina
was clearly unplayed against but he has never played against me then,
so how do you come to be the player of the year? Is that some type of media, exposure,
you know I came from Wilmington, you know, where two channel,
channel ABC and channel NBC that I never saw NBA at all when I grow up.
They didn’t have CBS receiver in North Carolina or Wilmington also.
Buss Peterson became a dead on my board.
When I get a chance to meet Peterson on the basketball court.
But he is a great person. It isn’t the fault of his. It was just my competitive natures.
I didn’t think he can beat me or is better than me as a basketball player.
And he became my roommate. From that point on, he became my focal point not knowingly
. He didn’t know it, but he did.
And Coach Smith, the day when he was on the Sports Illustrated, he named four starters and he didn’t name me.
That burned me up, because I got to be on that Sports Illustrate.
He had his own vision about giving a freshman that exposure,
I totally understand that but from a basketball sense
I deserve to be on that Sports Illustrated, and he understands that.
And it didn’t stop there. My competitive natures went right into the pros,
I get to the bulls which I am very proud. At the time Jerry Reinsdorf didn’t own the team.
It was another organization Reinsdorf drafted me. Kevin Loughery was my first coach.
Kevin used to take practice and put me in starting five.
You know, he made a competitive thing where the losing team had to run.
So now we are almost on the winning team, halfway on the game, halfway on the situation, he switched me to the losing team.
So I took that as a competitive thing, but you were trying to test me and by nine times out of ten the second team would come back to win no matter what he did.
So I appreciated Kevin to give me that challenge, providing that type of fire with me and he threw another log on that fire for me.
Jerry Reinsdorf, I mean what else can I say.
The next year when I came back I broke my foot;
I was out of 65 games. And when I came back I wanna play.
The doctor came with his old theory that you can play only seven minutes a game,
but I am practicing two hours a day. I am saying, well, I don’t agree with that math. And back then,
whoever has the worst record gets the most balls in Ping-Pang balls,
you know you can decide what pick you can have, but I don’t care about that. I just wanted to win.
I wanna made to playoffs.
I wanna keep that energy going in Chicago.
So I had to go into his office and sat down with him and say
“Jerry, I actually think I should play more than 14 minutes and practice more than two hours. He said
“We have to protect the long-term investment we’ve invested on you.
I said “I really think I should be able to play.”
He said “Let me ask you this, if you had a headache.”
At that time, there was ten percent that I can hurt my ankle or my foot.
He said “You had a headache and you got ten capsules, and one of them is coated with poison, would you take it?”
I looked him and say “It depends on how bad is that headache. How bad is that headache” .
Jerry looked me and say “You are OK, I guess you had a good answer, you can go back to play. You let me allow you to go back and play.” You know,
Jerry provided a lot of difficult obstacles for me but at the same time the guy gave me a opportunity to perform at the highest level in terms of basketball. The bulls, the whole bulls organization, you know, they did great adjustments for me and all my teammates. Believe me I had a lot of teammates in all the 14 years I played for the bulls. I respect each one of them. I just want them to win. No matter how you looked at it. Doug Collins came the same time when I was trying to play at the summer time. He said “well, you are part of the organization and the organization said you can’t play at the summer time. I said “you read the things in my contract; in my contract I have the ‘love the game’ clause. That means I can play anytime I want, any place I want And Doug looked at me and said “you are right, you are right.” And that’s how we became a little closer. Jerry Krause is right there and Jerry is not here. Obviously I don’t know who’d invite him, I didn’t. But, I hope he understands it goes a long way. He is a very competitive person. I was a very competitive person. He said organizations win championships. I said “I didn’t see organizations playing with the flu in Utah. I didn’t see it playing with a bad ankle.” Granted, granted, I think organizations put together teams, but at the end of the day, team’s got to go out and play. I think the players win the championship, and the organization has something to do with it, don’t get me wrong. But don’t try to put the organization above players. Because player still got to go out of there and perform. You guys got to pay us, but I am still to out to play.
Obviously you’ve seen my kids Marcus and Jeffery. I love you guys. I think you guys represent a lot of me and a lot of different person as your mum, you represent them as well. You know, I think you guys have a heavy burden. I wouldn’t want to be you guys if I had to. You know, because all the expectations you have to deal with. I mean, look around you, they charge a thousand dollars ticket for this thing, for this holy event. It used to be 200 dollars, but I paid it. You know, I have no choice. I have a lot of families and a lot of friend I have to bring in. So thank all of you to raising ticket price. I love you guys, you guys have a host of people supporting you, family, friends, people that you don’t know, relatives coming our of the woodworks. You know, no matter how you look at it, but I think we taught you right. Your mum and I, hopefully you can make the right decisions when the time comes. My mum, what can I say about my mum, my mum never stays still. You think I am busy. She is always on the go. Without her, she is rough, she is unbelievable. Even right now, she takes over two jobs. She is unbelievable woman. As I experienced the failure each everyday, it is her. She classically keeps me focus on the good things about life. You know, how people perceive you, how you respect them, you know, what’s good for the kids, what’s good for you, you know, how you perceive public, take a second thoughts and pause to think about things you should do. These all came from my parents, you know, came from my mum. She is still like this these days, I am 46 years old, she is still parenting me today. That’s a good thing. I’ll love her to death. I’ll love her to death.
And I will thank a couple of people that you guys probably wouldn’t even think I will thank. Isaiah Thomas, Magic Johnson and George Gervin. They are the so-called freezing-out in my rookie season. I wouldn’t remember you guys gave me the motivation to say, you know what? Evidently I haven’t proved enough to these guys. I’ve got to prove these guys that I deserve what I got at this level. No matter what people have said, if it is rumor, I never took it is truth. But you guys never froze me up, because I was yet happy to be there no matter how you look at it. From that point forward, I wanted to prove to you, Magic, Larry, Gorge and everybody that I deserve to be on this level as much as anyone else. And hopefully over the whole period of career I have done that, without a doubt. Even in the Detroit, we’ve done that.
Pat Riley, you and I go way back. I still remember in Pat Riley, in Pat Riley. I was coming in there, got leaving; you decided to stay a couple of days. You were coming into my suite and told me to get out of my suite. You slid a note on the leak of my door, although you had to move, you didn’t move. You slid the note, saying” I enjoyed the competition, congratulation, but we will meet again. And I take the heart in that, because I think in all I can see you are competitive and even from a coach standing point. You challenge me every time I play the Nicks, the Heats, I don’t think you are with the Lakers, but every time I play against you, you have “Jordan Stoppers” on your team, you have John Starks who I love. You even had my friend Oakley says “We can’t go to the lunch, we can’t go to the dinner together, because this guy hit me harder than anybody else in the league. He was my best friend. Patrick Erving and I are the same age. We came up at the same time. But we can’t go to the lunch together. Why is this an issue? You think I play against Patrick any different than I play anybody else? No, no. They had your learned guy became the Nicks, coach after you, Jeff van gundy. He said I can’t be player fairly and I may dead on the basketball court. Where is it come from? I just happen to be a friendly guy. I get along with everybody, but at the same time when the light comes on, I am more competitive than anybody. So you guys, I must say thank you for giving me the motivation that I desperately needed.
Phil Jackson is, to me, is a professional Dean Smith. He challenged me mentally, not just physically. You know, he understood the game, along with Tex Wenter. They taught me a lot about the basketball game. Tex being the specialist, I can never please Tex. And I love Tex. Tex is not here. And I know he is here in spirit. I can remember a game coming after the basketball court; we were down five to ten points. And I go off about 25 points, we came back to win the game. As we walked out the floor and Tex looked me and said “you know, there is ‘I’ in ‘team’.” I said “there is not ‘I’ in ‘team’, but there is ‘I’ in ‘win’.” I think he got my message. I will do anything to win. You know, that means we play team format to win. That means I will do what I have to do. No matter how you look at it. Then you had all your media message “Scoring champion can’t win a NBA title”. You are not good as Magic Johnson, you are not good as Larry Bird. You are good, but you are not good as those guys. I have to listen to all this. And that put so much wood on that fire. It kept me each everyday trying to get better as a basketball player. I am not saying they were wrong. I may look at them from a different perspective. But at the same time as a basketball player, I am trying to become the best I can. You know, for someone like me who achieve a lot in this kind of career, you look for any kind of messages that people may say or do to get you motivated to play the game basketball to the highest level. Because that’s what I feel when I assail at my best.
And my last example and the last you guys probably have seen. I hate to do it to them. He is such a nice guy. When I first met Bryon Russell, John and Karl, I was in Chicago in 1994.
I was working out for baseball and they all came down for workout and shooting around. I came over and say “Hello”, and at this time I had no thoughts of coming back and playing the game of basketball. Bryon Russell came over to me and said “why did you quit? why did you quit? You know I could guard you, if I ever see you in a pair of shorts”. Do you remember? John. When I did decide to come back in 1995 and we played Utah in 96, I’m at the center circle and Bryon Russell is standing next to me. I said “You remember the conversation you made in 1994 about ‘I think I can guard you, I can shut you down, I would love to play against you?’
Well, you are about to get your chance, and believe me ever since that day he got his chance, I don’t know how succeed he was. I think he got his chance. From this day forward, if he ever say me in shorts, I would come at him.
I know you guys got to go.
I know I’ve been up here a lot longer than I told my friends I was gonna up here, I cried, I was supposed to get up , said “Thank you” and walked off and I am not able to do that.
So I appreciate it. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. As I close, the game basketball has been everything to me, my refuge, a place I am always gone when I need to find comfort and peace. It’s been a source of intense pain and a source of most intense feelings of joy and satisfaction. The one that no one of you can imagine. It’s been a relationship of number of intersection. It gave me the great expects and love for the game. It provided me with a platform and shared my passions with millions in the way I neither expected nor could imagine in my career.
I hope it’s given millions of people touch and optimism to achieve their goals through hard work, perspiration and positive attitude.
Although I am recognized with this honor of being in the Hall of Fame, I don’t look this moment as final relationship between me and the basketball.
It simply a continuation of something I started a long time ago. One day, you may look up a senior player at a game of 50.Oh, no.
Don’t laugh. Don’t laugh. Never say never, because limits, like fear, are often just an illusion.
Thank you very much!