I couldn't be more honored, excited and overjoyed to be a part of the Hall of Fame. Words cannot really express how I truly feel right now. I don't think it's really hit me quite yet, and it's hard to even tell you how I feel to tell you the truth.
This honor means everything to me. Since I got the news last week, I've been looking back at my career, and it makes you reminisce about it all - the accomplishments and even the downfalls that made me pick myself up, dust myself off and get back out there. It makes you look at the good and bad times...and you realize, it was all worth it.
This has taken me back to where it all started - back to high school - when I picked up a basketball for the first time in 10th grade. As a young kid, I played football. That was my first love. But when I picked up a basketball, I fell in love with it instantly. I wanted to play it every day. When I fell in love with the game, the only guy I knew or heard about back in those days was Dr. J. He was just so good, on and off the court, and that's who I wanted to follow. That was my idol. I had a chance to really sit down and talk to him about two years ago. We exchanged numbers, and I was just so proud to have his number in my phone!
The game took me through high school and then to college. And then when I realized it could take me to the NBA, wow, that was unbelievable. I didn't know where my NBA path would take me, but to get to this point, the Hall of Fame, it's the greatest achievement you could ever get. A Championship ring, All-Stars, Rookie of the Year, Olympic medals...and now this. It's really a beautiful thing. I enjoyed every step and every place the game of basketball has taken me. You turn around and it's been 30 years. It went so fast. I feel like a young guy at 48, and I'm in the Hall of Fame. It's so fascinating and amazing. This is truly the ultimate.
This honor represents everyone who has touched my life so far. The coaches from high school, the guys I played with, everyone who was a part of my growth to this point...that's who I'm thinking about right now. I'm getting calls from high school teammates, coaches, friends I played with in the NBA. It's an amazing feeling and it shows how many people have touched my life throughout my career.
The day I found out about the Hall of Fame I was in Chicago for the McDonald's All American Game. I knew I was supposed to be getting a call about it that day, so I kept looking at my phone. For some reason, nobody was calling me - not even my friends - I couldn't get my phone to ring if I tried! I was in the middle of a scout meeting, my phone buzzed, and I looked down and it said "Hall of Fame." I was so nervous when I saw that, and I went outside to take the call. The guy on the other end of the phone asked me how I was doing and when I told him I was great, he said, "'I hope you are going to be even better because you are a member of the Hall of Fame."'
Man, I had to sit down for a second. I was so excited. But I had to go back in to the meeting and not say anything about it. I definitely had a big smile on my face, though! Then I called my wife, my Mom and my Dad. They were thrilled! I had to keep reminding my Mom (who's like the TMZ of Ft. Lauderdale) that she couldn't tell anyone!
I arrived in Dallas Thursday morning and laid low most of the weekend because I couldn't tell anyone. People were coming up to me and saying congrats, and I acted like I didn't know what they were talking about! Some reporters were calling. I couldn't answer anyone's calls. My phone has been ringing off the hook.
People don't know this, but one of my best friends is Michael Irvin. We had a chance to get together the other night and we reminisced and talked a lot. It's amazing where we came from. People don't know that Michael was was a phenomenal basketball player. We (with another one of our friends) used to go to any neighborhood and play their three best players. We played for soda, for money, for anything, and we'd win! I went on to basketball, and he went on to football, but we remained great friends. It's unbelievable - two guys from the same area are Hall of Famers and best friends. Deion Sanders and Emmitt Smith, also both Hall of Famers from Florida, were there too the other night. We all reminisced together.
This is truly the ultimate basketball accomplishment, and I will represent the Hall of Fame, and continue to respect the game, as best as I can. I am honored and so happy to be a part of this wonderful organization.