Widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael “Air” Jordan was inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame Friday, along with the NBA’s all time assist leader and frequent Jordan opponent John Stockton, “The General” David Robinson, Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, and the current women’s basketball coach at Rutgers University C. Vivian Stringer, who is the first women’s coach to ever lead three different teams to the Final Four.
But, the night was mostly Michael’s.
Here’s his entire acceptance speech split into three parts:
FULL TEXT of speech:
“Jerry’s not here. I don’t know who’d invite him. I didn’t. I hope he understands it goes a long way. He’s a very competitive person. I was a very competitive person. He said organizations win championships. I said, ‘I didn’t see organizations playing with the flu in Utah. I didn’t see it playing with a bad ankle.’”
“Granted, I think organizations put together teams, but at the end of the day, the team’s got to go out and play. I think the players win the championship, and the organization has something to do with it, don’t get me wrong. But don’t try to put the organization above the players.”
“I was in Chicago in 1994 … and at this time I had no thoughts of coming back and playing the game of basketball. Bryon Russell came over to me and said, ‘Why’d you quit? You know I could guard you. If I ever see you in a pair of shorts …’
“When I did come back in 1995 and we played Utah in ‘96, I’m at the center circle and Bryon Russell is standing next to me. I said, ‘You remember the [comments] you made in 1994 about, ‘I think I can guard you, I can shut you down, I would love to play against you? Well, you’re about to get your chance.’ “
Jordan then commented on former NBA greats Isiah Thomas, George Gervin and Magic Johnson freezing him out at his first All-Star Game.
“You guys gave me the motivation to say, ‘You know what? Evidently I haven’t proved enough to these guys. I’ve got to prove to these guys that I deserve what I got at this level.’
He also thanked Bulls fans.
“They took me in and I had to earn my keep. They believed in me. I believed in them. That marriage lasted up until now. I will always, always have the deepest warmth for the city of Chicago and the support I’ve received from them.”
“Other than what I’ve done, I can’t give back any more. And I wouldn’t ask for any more. I just want them to be able to remember the things I contributed to the city. And hopefully at some point down the road, they can have another championship just so they can compare the two. I wouldn’t be standing here without their support without a doubt.”