Stern amongst Girls’s Basketball HOF inductees

NBA

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — What David Stern did for the game of basketball transcended any gender bias and opened an entire new world for ladies within the recreation.

NBA commissioner from 1984 to 2014, Stern was the important thing determine within the formation and operation of the WNBA in 1997. That daring transfer paved the way in which for Stern, who died Jan. 1, 2020, to be inducted into the Girls’s Basketball Corridor of Fame on Saturday evening.

Stern was joined within the induction class by former gamers Tamika Catchings, Swin Money, Lauren Jackson and Debbie Brock, together with contributors Carol Callan, Sue Donohoe and Carol Stiff.

“The WNBA was my father’s child,” mentioned Eric Stern, representing his father. “It was one thing he needed to battle for. He had to spend so much {of professional} capital, and even some private capital, to make it occur.

“There have been loads of doubters. He tended to take pleasure in battle and did not thoughts it in any respect. He did loads of civil rights work as he was rising up. He had a powerful conviction towards fairness and equality.”

Catchings was a direct beneficiary of the work that Stern did. After being the faculty participant of the 12 months at Tennessee in 2000, she went on to have a 15-year profession within the WNBA with the Indiana Fever. She was the MVP of the Finals in 2012, when the Fever received the title.

Whereas her professional profession solidified Catchings’ spot within the Corridor of Fame, it was a journey that got here full circle.

“In the summertime of ’98, I used to be an intern on the Girls’s Basketball Corridor of Fame,” she mentioned. “I made positive the flooring have been clear and the displays have been dusted.

“I used to be in a position to absorb ladies’s basketball historical past and respect those that fought for ladies’s rights. The phrase ‘legacy’ is one I hope you bear in mind. I used to be a byproduct of so many earlier than me.”

Catchings thought again to life as an eighth-grader, when for some cause, she settled on a channel whereas watching tv.

“I noticed two steely blue eyes [belonging to Tennessee coach Pat Summitt] that have been so intense,” she mentioned. “It was the primary time I used to be watching ladies play basketball on TV in probably the most lovely shade of orange. It impressed me to be adequate to play for Pat Head Summitt some day.”

Along with her success at Tennessee and with the Fever, Catchings performed on U.S. Olympic groups that received 4 gold medals in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.

As USA Basketball’s Nationwide Crew Director, Callan was instrumental in placing collectively gamers, coaches and directors that received gold medals previously seven Olympics, the newest coming in Tokyo earlier this month.

“One of the best motivation you may have in life is to play with ardour and goal,” Callan mentioned. “There is not any better goal than the pursuit of a gold medal.

“The best motivator is to have a compelling aim. In USA Basketball, everybody comes via a range course of. It is essential to let everybody develop into themselves. We’re all united via the game of basketball. Tradition-based teamwork will enable us to be our greatest, collectively and individually.”

Stiff was inducted as a contributor after working at ESPN for 31 years earlier than retiring in July. A champion of girls’s basketball, she led the corporate’s programming efforts for NCAA ladies’s basketball and the WNBA for many years, most lately serving as vp for programming and acquisitions. Stiff additionally helped launch Jimmy V Week and the Kay Yow Most cancers Fund.

In her induction speech, Stiff thanked ESPN for “rolling the cube” and hiring “a school basketball coach with none media coaching in any respect to program all their ladies’s sports activities.” She additionally urged everybody to “proceed to speculate and assist our recreation.”

“Put money into the ladies who play our recreation in any respect ranges,” Stiff mentioned. “Assist by watching, attending, sponsoring. … By doing so, your greatest and your brightest shining moments are but to return.”

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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