By Mel Greenberg
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. --
Actually, this is being written late Sunday after the Guru's return to Philadelphia follwing the 12th induction ceremonies adding individuals to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Guru taped all the speeches and video introductory remarks, but to transcribe it all is more intensive than realized. Mechelle Voepelle, who was on the scene for ESPN.com, and Helen from Women's Hoops (women'shoops blogspot.com) reported extensively.
However, to do the first part of the wrapup at this end, in the event some pictures soon start appearing on the internet, at the post-ceremony reception in the theater lobby where music played and some fine bites were served, the Guru will admit being asked onto the dance floor by a another Women's Basketball Hall of Famer, a longtime friend who has been known to be coaching Rutgers and who was to be one of his escorts at the 2007 ceremony until the airlines played havoc with her journey that weekend.
Yes the music was rock and roll, in Knoxville, no less, and within a few seconds a flurry of paparazzi assembled from all directions. The Guru went through a smiliar experience several years ago at Dawn Staley's retirement party at the end of her WNBA career.
During the ceremony, the Guru sat next to a fellow WBHOF Hall of Famer also known as 2010 inductee Rebecca Lobo's coach at Connecticut. Yes, some emotion was detected from him during his video intro and her speech.
Because no media was on the scene from the horde -- the troops were all shot down by their expense-minded editors in this tough financial times -- and because this blog draws a high volume of traffic out of the Nutmeg State, the Guru only finds it appropriate to offer the complete transcription of his video introduction and Lobo's acceptance speech.
In the next day or so, he'll try to provide what he can off former Maryland coach Chris Weller's speech -- what an entourage from the Terrapins by the way -- as a gift to his friends at D.C. Basketball Cases, who often send links in his direction.
You folks must be happy with the play of the WNBA Washington Mystics in the past week.
The Guru will also listen for sound bites from the other speeches, but in case you haven't seen reporting elsewhere, everyone was fine. Weatherspoon was as pumped up at the reception after speaking without a prepared text as she was after making that famous 50-foot shoot in the WNBA playoffs at the buzzer that extended the former Houston Comets to a third and deciding game in the championship series.
Leta Andrews was folksy, Gloria Ray was inciteful, Teresa Edwards was extra humble, and all, of course, paid tribute to all the people around them in their lives who helped make this past weekend possible.
That said, here is Auriemma's intro and Lobo's acceptance speech. The Guru, to help break up the type here, will insert some subheads into Lobo's remarks. Geno Auriemma Video Introduction of Rebecca Lobo (He spoke in accented but eloquently-paced measured phrases, pausing at the commas inserted by the Guru, so you know as you read this.)
I’m Geno Auriemma, I’m the coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball program.
I had the pleasure of coaching Rebecca Lobo for four years. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her for much longer than that and my recollections of Rebecca as a youngster, coming out of high school, coming to Connecticut, and be put in a situation, where she was asked to be the most important player in the history of Connecticut basketball.
Not an easy task.
It was an incredible performance by Rebecca during those four years, to transform Connecticut from a regional basketball ok program to a national champion program.
It’s an incredible performance in the sense that as a player, as a person, as a student, as an ambassador for the game of basketball. I’ve never been around anyone who handled it with the grace and the integrity that she brought to everything she did.
It’s amazing what has happened to the University of Connecticut since Rebecca Lobo decided to become a student there.
No one is all the years that I’ve been there, has had the impact on the court and off the court, that Rebecca has had and has continued both in the WNBA, as being one of the founders, both as a representative of our university, as a member of the board of trustees, continuing to promote the game on ESPN, and all the other things that Rebecca has done to further the role model that she is, for all the young people that looked up to her, emulated what she has always been, a great student, a great athlete, a great person, someone that I’m cherished, to have had the opportunity to work with, and to call my friend, and now to call my boss.
I’ve never ever been around anyone who has held herself to a higher standard and contributed to the growth of girls, women, the university, it’s been a ride that I can’t even describe.
I’m so thrilled to be in this situation right now to present to you for the induction to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Class 2010, Rebecca Lobo. Rebecca Lobo Acceptance Speech(Music plays as she mounts the stairs to the stage for her remarks)
I’m glad they allowed me to play the UConn fight song tonight.
It’s so nice to be able to listen to Coach Auriemma say so many nice things about me after so many years of Thanks coach I’ll continue to take my heels off when I interview you on the sideline. That was his request a couple of years ago.
I’m so thrilled to be here and I want to thank the board of directors and everyone at the Hall of Fame.
I had my first opportunity to tour the museum yesterday and it just struck me – the history and stories of these strong women. From walking through and looking at the exhibit of the All-American Redheads, to all the women who played in the ‘40s and ‘50s and ‘60s, played the game before scholarships, before school support, before a lot of people were taking notice.
And I realized and appreciate that I would not have this opportunity if it wasn’t for those strong women. And I wouldn’t have this opportunity if it wasn’t for the strong women in my own family.
I grew up with grandmothers, when we would have them to the house and have family gatherings, it was my grandmothers more than my grandfathers, who were outside playing with the ball.
It was my mother’s mom who was beating all her grandchildren in ping pong and not letting up.
And it was that same grandmother who, when we would play cribbage, would have us sit in front of the sliding glass door so she could see our cards in the reflection.
We were young kids but she wanted to let us know how important it was to win even if sometimes it meant cheating.Mom's Influence
And the strong mom that I’ve had in my household when we signed up in the local park rec league in our town play basketball. I was in the third grade. And when she got the phone call saying, We’re sorry Mrs. Lobo but Rebecca can’t play because we only had two girls sign up.
My mother’s response was, That’s fine. They’ll just have to put her on the boys’ team.
And when we went down to the first day of practice and she said to the coach, I know Rebecca’s the only girl and I want you the treat her the exact same as all the boys. When they run sprints, she runs sprints, if you’re yelling at the boys, you yell at her.
The only thing is when you go shirts and skins, I would like her on the shirts team.
And it was that same strong mother, who, when I was in high school, I would be embarrassed when she would pick up our rotary phone and call up ESPN after SportsCenter was on and berate them for not having any women’s scores.
That happened on more than one occasion.
And I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the strong men in my life – my father who supported me, even when I was this little tomboy asking Santa Claus to bring a New York Giants football uniform for Christmas.
And he was very OK with me wearing jeans and tee-shirts and sneakers to school so I could play with the boys at recess instead of getting all dolled up in a dress.
The same man who drove me to countless AAU practices and drove me back to the point how stinky a little pickup truck was when we got home.Recalling UConn
My coaches – my middle school coach – Mr. Larrabee (spelling?) – my high school coach – Mr. (Vincent? inaudible) and, of course, Coach Auriemma and his staff at UConn – Coach Dailey, Tonya Cardoza, Meghan Pattyson, Jack Eisemann, who is here tonight.
I know with certainty I would not be inducted into the Hall of Fame if I went to any other university and played for any other coaching staff. They knew what it took to make me a player, they knew what it take (to make) this silly 18-year-old girl into a young woman, who, not only did they teach how to play the game of basketball the right way but taught me how to conduct myself while playing the game and afterwards.
You guys mean so much to me in my life. Hopefully I’ll have a lot more opportunities to thank you but it will still never be enough.
And how Coach Auriemma got me there was everyday calling me the worst post player in America, and my favorite – the dumbest smart person in America.
And saying it with all the love that you can imagine he was saying it with.
And I’ve had such wonderful and caring teammates who have continued to be my best friends – and one’s here – Kara Wolters.
One of the best things she ever did for me, she was two years younger than me, was to come to Connecticut because the second she stepped onto our campus she became the worst post player in America.Tribute to Husband Steve Rushin
And I’m fortunate to have another strong man in my life in my husband Steve, who, it’s not probably very easy to be married to me and live in Connecticut.
Our first wedding present that came to the house was addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Steve Lobo. And when Steve and I met, I was playing for the New York Liberty and he was a sportswriter for Sports Illustrated living in Manhattan. And (inaudible) story goes, we met in a dive bar, a dive Irish bar in New York, and I knew who he was, I knew his writing because I had been reading Sports Illustrated for a long time.
And when we met, I just looked at him, I said, Are you the guy who made fun of the WNBA and New York Liberty a couple of weeks ago?
And he looked at me kind of sheepishly and said, Yeah, I guess I am.
And I asked him how many WNBA games have you been to?
And he said, none.
And needless to say, three-and-a-half children later, he’s seen a lot of women’s basketball game.
Fortunately, he’s come to really enjoy it. Timing Is Everything
I’m very much a product of timing. I’m here because of timing. I was born in 1973 – Title IX was passed in 1972. I had a chance to play basketball when people played attention, when athletic departments cared about the sport and funded the sport and did the right thing.
I played at a time when ESPN started to make a huge commitment – my mother thinks because of her telephone calls – showing the scores and the highlights and broadcasting the games. Carol Stiff, who is here, is a big part of that – so thank you.
And I got to play at a time when the WNBA existed, when people like David Sterm, Adam Silver, Val Ackerman, and Renee Brown, who is here, cared enough about this sport and recognized the business opportunites and poterntial of these women to show it on TV and give someone else to an opportunity to continue playing.
And people like Teresa Edwards and Teresa Weatherspoon (also 2010 inductees), who had gone overseas for so many years, a chance to come back home and show people in this country the best of the best. And I thank the WNBA.
And this class is such a fantastic class and what they represent. You have the best coaches on the college (former Maryland coach Chris Weller) and high school (Texas-Leta Andrews) level. The best administrators. And Gloria (Gloria Ray, former Tennessee women’s athletic director who oversaw construction of the WBHOF), thank you for your vision in getting this Hall of Fame started.
And Teresa Weatherspoon and Teresa Edwards: When I was in high school, the first memory I had was watching college basketball on TV, was watching Teresa Weatherspoon win a national championship at Louisiana Tech and wore those ridiculous T-shirt uniforms that you guys had with those zippers in front.
And I remember, `Spoon’s passion, the cheery curl and the smile.
It was the love of basketball is what it was all about.
And Teresa Edwards, I don’t even think she knows this but I think when I was in high school, all through my high school years, I had a poster of Teresa on my bedroom wall – A USA Basketball poster, a Converse poster, and she had these long braids, and sweat pouring off her face. That was on my bedroom wall. And I got a chance to play with Spoon (on the Liberty) for five years in the WNBA and I got a chance to play with Teresa (Edwards) on the Olympic team
And when I was the youngest one on the Olympic team and not finishing first in the sprints and understandably the last one off the bench. And what a terrific mentor she and Spoon both were to me, so I’m so thrilled this is the class I’m going in with. Men Play?
But two years ago, a year and a half ago, my oldest daughter, who was 4 ½, and my husband was watching UConn men, playing on the television in the living room, and my daughter walked in the room and looked at the TV and said to Steve, Are those boys playing.
And I said, yes.
And my daughter said, I didn’t know boys played basketball.
So to all the people who had a hand in making this Hall of Fame what it is, and to all the people who continue to support the game of women’s basketball, but mostly, to all the people who did this before anyone was watching or people were really playing attention, I say thank you, because I’ve benefitted so much from it.
I’m so appreciative and this has just been amazing. So thank you. The Guru will be back on the WNBA trail in Monday night's post -- Mel