Air Jordan reaches new heights with place in Hall of Fame

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Michael Jordan, maybe the greatest of them all, has taken his place alongside basketball's other greats.
And he never forgot anyone who motivated him to get there.
Jordan was enshrined in the Hall of Fame on Friday night, a final honour that followed all the championship rings and MVP trophies he collected during his career.
From the high school coach who cut him to the last player to defend him in the NBA final, Jordan remembered everyone who did something to bring out the competitiveness that carried him to the top of basketball.
"I'd do anything to win," he said.
He joined David Robinson and John Stockton, a pair of his 1992 Dream Team teammates, and coaches Jerry Sloan and C. Vivian Stringer in a distinguished class.
"It all started with that little, round ball. I think if you take that away from any of us, I'm pretty sure we would have struggled in life, because that's how much the game meant to us," Jordan said at a morning news conference with the inductees, where he stressed that the weekend wasn't just about him.
"It's truly a pleasure for me to be a part of this, and contrary to what you guys believe, it's not just me going into the Hall of Fame. It's a group of us," Jordan said. "And I'm glad to be a part of them and believe me, I'm going to remember them as much as they remember me."
Still, none of them can compare to Jordan - perhaps no one ever will - after he led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships while often being considered the best player ever.
Jordan said he cringes when he hears that label, because he didn't get to earn it by playing others who might have deserved it.
"It's a privilege, but I would never give myself that type of accolade because I never competed against everybody in this Hall of Fame," he said. "So it's too much for me to ask and too much for me to accept."
Robinson was enshrined first on Friday before a large San Antonio contingent that included teammates Tim Duncan and Avery Johnson, and coaches Larry Brown and Gregg Popovich. Stockton told the Spurs that his running mate, Karl Malone, was the best power forward, not Duncan.
The enshrinement ceremony took place at Springfield's Symphony Hall, because Jordan was too big for the Hall of Fame. The move to the other building allowed for a crowd of about 2,600, more than double what the Hall can accommodate.
Most of the attention was on Jordan, the five-time NBA MVP, but the others in the class are some of the most accomplished in the sport. Stockton is the career leader in assists and steals, Robinson won an MVP trophy and two titles in San Antonio, Sloan is the only coach to win 1,000 games with one team, and Stringer was the first woman's coach to lead three different schools to the Final Four.
"Unique, unique competitors," Stockton said.
Fiery ones, too. Sloan, Stockton's longtime coach, told two different tales of fights he was in as a hard-nosed player for Chicago.
Jordan remembered scoring around 20 points in a row late in a game to pull out a win, which was followed by a conversation with Bulls assistant Tex Winter.
"Tex reminded me that there's no 'I' in team," Jordan said. "And I looked back at Tex, I said, 'There's 'I' in win.' So whichever way you want it."

Organizations: Air Jordan, NBA, Dream Team Chicago Bulls Spurs

Geographic location: Jordan, San Antonio, Chicago

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