Soaring all the Way to Springfield
As a native Atlantan, it saddens me to say there have only been a handful of memorable hometown sports moments over my 29 years: Georgia Tech's "Lethal Weapon 3,â€ Sid Bream's slide, Holyfield in the early 90s, Michael Vick's unbelievable '02 season and the last past couple of UGA football campaigns. The Hawks, with its impressive line-up of youngsters, will probably provide a few memories in a couple of years, too, but none will be as lasting as those of my favorite hooper ever, Dominique Wilkins. Sadly, â€˜Nique played with two things working against himâ€”Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. One of only 10 cats with over 26,000 career points, No. 21 was so slept-on it was silly. Hall of Fame voters were on some more coma ish last year and failed to invite the Hawks legend to Springfield. This year they woke up (Charles Barkley and Joe Dumars got nods, too) and the Hall is better off because of it. I had the privilidge of listening in on Nique's press conference after he got the call a few months back. Here a few Human Highlight Excerpts:
On his initial thoughts after getting the call
This is also a great honor for me as well. It's the ultimate validation any player can get on any sport's level. I'm also thrilled to go in with Joe and Charles. We played each other in our prime. Charles and I played each other as young men. He was older than me [actually]. It's just a wonderful, wonderful pleasure to be here with these guys. I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to go in here with. I'm very fortunate and honored to be a part of such a class.
On finally getting his props
Well, at this time, none of that matters any more. I don't think I've been that outspoken about it. Of course, when you go through your career, and you've made certain accomplishments, you think you belong. At this point in time, the most important thing is that I'm a part of an elite group and I am going in with a great bunch of guys. This just validates everything that you've done through your career. All of the stuff that happened before just kinda goes through the window.
On why he thought voters changed their minds from a year prior
I think they just realized that I belong, plain and simple. I mean, you have your peers that understand what you did in this league. I think Charles has been my biggest fan in this whole thing. All of those things come into play. But quite frankly, what I've done in my career speak for itself.
On things he likes/dislikes about today's game
I still love the game itself, but I think things have changed from when we played the game. I think we played the game on a different level. I think the respect level was different. I think the appreciation of each other as competitors was different. People gotta understand: The league is very, very young. Unfortunately, we gotta be patient with these guys and help them mature as young men. That, in turn, will make them great young players. But it's going to take time. I don't think there's anything in today's league that I would change â€“other than the salary- to the time we played. I love our era. I think our era was one of the greatest eras ever played. I wouldn't change a thing about our era.