The sort of running joke of the Naismith Hall of Fame induction ceremony, perpetuated by emcee Ahmad Rashad, was inductee Ralph Sampson describing the event as a “boys’ night” while trying to explain why he invited his sons to accompany him on stage and not his daughters.
And with three official women’s basketball honorees and one unofficial honoree it was easy to keep the joke going throughout the night; Lidia Alexeeva, Katrina McClain, and The All American Red Heads were all inducted to the Hall of Fame while former Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller paid tribute to his older sister, Cheryl, at points in his ceremony-closing acceptance speech.
In case you missed any of that, the speeches given by McClain and the All American Red Heads are below – as well as the short introductory videos that preceded their speeches – in addition to the excerpt from Miller’s speech when he refers to his sister.
All American Red Heads
Tammy Harrison acceptance speech, Part 1
Ahmad Rashad: “I don’t know if this is going to help you in the car, Ralph, but you can see this is not guys’ night out.”
Tammy Harrison on the context of The All American Red Heads and “responding” to Ralph Sampson: “I’d like to take you back to 1936 America, a time of dust bowls, depression, unease, and all the while basketball, a game [that is] simple in many ways – you need a ball and a hoop. Oh, you need the opportunity to play, of course. During this time, the opportunities to play were incredibly limited. It was considered [socially] unacceptable and physically impossible to run up and down the floor, to sweat, and compete. The women’s place was in the home – Ralph – not on the basketball court. Of course there was exceptions, women rejecting the notion that basketball was a man’s domain from the very beginning and women always worked as nurses, teachers, and hair dressers, which brings me again to the All American Red Heads.
“It was widely viewed that a woman’s body could not withstand the stress and that such an activity would post serious consequences. Against such odds, in 1936, the Olsons created the All American Red Heads…We all owe a debt of gratitude to the name ‘Olson’ – Olie and Dayle broke the ice and gave women a future in sports.”
Teresa Edwards on Katrina McClain: “There is not a better women’s basketball player in the world when it comes to playing in the post. Katrina McClain is the best power forward in the history of women’s basketball, hands down.”
#WNBA I admire Coach C. Vivian Stringer in so many ways. She was a fighter in all adversities we had to go under. 1985 USA World Unv.
— Mel Greenberg (@womhoopsguru) September 8, 2012
Katrina McClain on Dr. J: “We had to adopt male role models and he’s my role model. He epitomized basketball.”
Katrina McCalin on Georgia coach Andy Landers (via Red and Black.com, paraphrasing): “Coach Landers. Wow. What can I say? I thought I was prepared for Georgia because we ran so much in high school…but I wasn’t. I remember when he was recruiting me, Coach Landers told me I could be the greatest player in the world. He also told me if I wanted easy don’t come to Georgia. Coach Landers helped me really realize that you had to go out there and work hard.”
Katrina McClain on Teresa Edwards: “Teresa Edwards has been another person, a best friend, who actually took me under her wings when I came to the University of Georgia – and I didn’t know I was going to room with her but we roomed together – and have been together since our paths have crossed…But T is the one that took me in and she’s the one that kind of showed me the ropes. And Teresa is the one that actually inspired me, she mentored me – even though I took all that abuse from Coach Landers at practice, I had to go to the room and take it from her. You know, ‘Stop being a sensitive girl. You gotta hit back. You gotta stop letting Janet push you around.’ I was like, ‘Man.’ I was just a freshman so- but she was very inspirational so she was my greatest mentor and just happens to be my best friend.”
Reggie Miller on Cheryl Miller
More on Cheryl – with a boastful reaction – from the end of Reggie’s speech: “What makes tonight so incredible…We’ve got, in my opinion, the three greatest players ever assembled in one room tonight in Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Cheryl Miller. This is truly special.”