Transcript of the Hall of Fame Induction Speech
Hall of Famers, fellow inductees, friends and fans…
My name is Artis Gilmore and I am a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Growing up a youngster in Chipley, Florida playing with tied up rag balls that didn’t bounce and shoes that didn’t fit, I idolized players like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Oscar Robertson.
I never dreamt that one day my name would join theirs as a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Before I go on, I want to answer three questions once and for all.
One, the weather up here is fine.
Two, I am a basketball player.
And Three, My trip to this stage was a long one.
Yet today is not about the journey, it’s about the destination. Millions of people have laced up their sneakers since Dr. Naismith invented the game several miles from here in 1891. Every one of them would love to be in my shoes today. None of them however would appreciate it more than I do.
Yogi Berra once said, “I would like to thank all the people who made today necessary.” I would especially like to thank Jerry Collangelo for helping to make it a reality.
While I played 12 highly distinguished seasons in the NBA, I also want to recognize the ABA, many of them I join in the Hall today. In 1975 our Kentucky Colonels, coached by Hubie Brown was the best team in professional basketball. The ABA introduced the 3-point line and the slam dunk contest. We were showtime before there was Showtime. Everyone who played in the ABA treasures the experience.
I never played the game to win awards, yet I was fortunate to win many at every level of the game. For that success I owe a great debt to every coach, trainer and teammate I shared a a basketball with over the years. At every stop from Carver High School, to Gardner-Webb, Jacksonville University, The Colonels, The Bulls, The Spurs, The Celtics and finally Arimo, Bologna.
My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has honored me with special memories and remarkable friends and fans. I am so thankful for all His blessings.
With me, virtually every step of the way for almost 40 years now, is my wife Enola Gay. When others may have doubted, she never did. When I was on the road as much as I was at home, she raised our family of three wonderful girls and two really, really great sons with unwavering dedication. She is every bit the Hall of Faller that I am.
Another Hall of Famers in my mother, Mattie. While she and my father would have loved being here in person, I have no doubt that they are looking down over the festivities with a huge smile on their faces.
I want to avoid starting to thank too many people because the list is lengthy. I would however like to thank my Doctors:
Dr. J for presenting me for induction.
Dr. Frances B. Kinne, Chancellor Emeritus of Jacksonville University for being a second mom to me.
And Dr. Bill Gay of Jacksonville for being my friend and benefactor.
Dr. Kerry Romesburg, President of Jacksonville University is here today, along with Jacksonville’s new Mayor, Alvin Brown, and I would like to thank them and all my friends from JU, the Bulls, the Spurs, the Celtics, the Colonels, the Webb and others from across the country who have traveled here to share this day with our family, Enola and me.
People ask me if I have regrets about my career. I must admit I do have one. I wish Michael Jordan had played before me because if he had, in all my pictures I wouldn’t be wearing those short shorts we all wore back in the day!
In closing, I would like to congratulate Chris Mullin, Tera Van DeVeer, Dennis Rodman, Theresa Edwards, Arvydas Sibonas, Herb McGee, Tex Winter, Tom Sanders and Reese Tatum on your well-earned election into the Hall of Fame and let you know how proud I am to be sharing this day with each of you.
Imagine the A-Train, the Worm, Satch and Goose are joining the Stilt, the Hick from French Lick, Zeke from Cabin Creek, Ice, The Doctor, The Pistol, Magin and his Airness in one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. What a great game. What a great country!