Then he turned to those who made it possible for his unique journey to the sport's highest honor.
With one of the doctors who performed his kidney transplant in attendance, the former Georgetown and
"There was such purpose to my life at that point and I never doubted — no matter how long the odds — that it was possible," Mourning said during Friday night's induction ceremony. "I just thought, 'This is much bigger than me.' I had a goal set to win a championship that was denied when I got kidney disease."
Mourning returned to win the 2006
The women's team from Immaculata College was also honored, along with Lithuania star Sarunas Marciulionis. Former
Stern was honored for his three decades of leadership that transformed the league from struggling teams and tape-delayed finals to an international juggernaut. His introductory video included praise from NBA stars
"Everything we do is always about the game," Stern said, asking the entire crowd to stand so he could thank the former players, fans and family members who made the league's success possible. "The reason I'm here is because of thousands of people over the years who have done so much."
Stern had five current Hall of Famers welcome him into the Hall, from Russell, the former Celtics star, to former deputy commissioner Russ Granik — a group that represented his wide-ranging influence as he rose from working at his father's deli to the pinnacle of the sport.
"Under his leadership, the NBA rose to terrific heights, on and off the court," Richmond said in his acceptance speech.
Stern's induction capped a festive night at Symphony Hall in downtown Springfield, across the highway from the museum that commemorates the city's claim as the sport's birthplace.
Williams, who led Maryland to 11 consecutive
Richardson recounted a playing career in which he went from 21 points a game to 14 and belatedly realized it was more important to win. Thanking his teachers and coaches and family, he said, "You have to have a team to reach a dream."
"This isn't talking about a national championship team," he said. "This is about the team that helped raise Nolan Sam Richardson Jr."