Five-time WNBA All-Star.
First player to record 1,000 points and 1,000 assists.
Marquee player on those early New York Liberty teams.
A 1988 Olympic gold medal.
An NCAA title with Louisiana Tech.
2010 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.
2019 Basketball Hall of Famer.
She was one of many greats who was recognized this weekend past for their contributions to the game of basketball by virtue of immortality in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Weatherspoon’s speech was one filled with emotion.
This is something that I never thought – never ever envisioned in my life.
When God solidifies and glorifies your position and your destination, no one can take that away from you.
Her speech transitioned into mentioning the history of the game of basketball and why it was one of the reasons why she was given the chance to become one of its all-time greats.
The game has been so kind to me, given me so many things. It’s been my sanctuary, it’s been my safe haven – a place where I can go and feel good about my life. I had an opportunity with this game to see some things I thought I’d never see, do some things I thought I’d never do, meet people I thought I’d never be able to meet.
Among those people were the three who presented T-Spoon in Cynthia Cooper, Tina Thompson and Sheryl Swoopes.
I truly love and appreciate you guys so very much more than you guys can ever imagine. You guys, these three are great for the women’s game, but not only for the women’s game, for basketball period.
The whole Hall had a chuckle when she got in a reference to those WNBA Finals between the Houston Comets and New York Liberty.
I’m still salty about those three championships that we gave you.
Weatherspoon let everyone know that she was speaking from the heart with no script. She thanked the Hall as well as her high school coaches – one of whom, she said, kicked her off the team.
Those were the three longest days of my life. My mom had to get me back on the team, there was nothing I could do to get back on that team.
She also referenced her Louisiana Tech days, including a shoutout to Karl Malone (The Mailman also played his college ball for the Bulldogs) and Leon Barmore, her coach in Ruston.
I thank you for teaching me to be disciplined. I thank you for teaching me to be a better basketball player…
At the time, when she graduated, there was no WNBA, but she did reference the Olympics, which she got to be part of for USA Basketball in the late 1980s. Weatherspoon also referenced her overseas career where she played in Italy and Russia.
She then moved on to the WNBA where she referenced David Stern, Adam Silver, the W’s history of presidents and Renee Brown for giving talented women hoopsters the opportunity to play basketball stateside. That gave T-Spoon the chance to play in New York City at Madison Square Garden for the Liberty.
Those girls I had a chance to play with, they were my teammates. But they were more than my teammates. They were my sisters. It was a sisterhood. They were my friends and my friends for life. I love every one of you guys and you know how dear you are to me.
Even when one encounters the success that Weatherspoon has encountered, one cannot forget where they came from and where it all began.
When it comes down to all of the emotions for me is when it comes to thanking my family.
I never had to look outside of my family for my heroes. You guys were the example for me to follow.
We’ve gone through a lot together, we’ve done a lot together, we’ve fought together. Tonight, we go in together.
Another person T-Spoon mentioned was her father who played baseball. She said his skin color prevented him from playing in Louisiana.
Tonight, I can actually say to my dad, to dad, you’re a Hall of Famer and no one’s going to take that away from you.
She also thanked her mother for being her “reason” and her “why” and credited her with giving her the ability to turn a negative into a positive. Weatherspoon said her mother gave her the courage to stand up in the face of anything and have a victorious attitude. Another virtue she credited her mother with is having a sense of self-evaluation and realizing that life is best fulfilled when it has an imprint on other lives.
She closed with a story of three frogs. All were in a hole of depression. At the top of that hole were detractors saying they couldn’t get to the top. Two of them couldn’t do it. The last one did – because it was deaf.
That’s me. I was that frog – turned deaf ears to what people say that you cannot do. Know your worth. Know your value.
— NBA (@NBA) September 7, 2019
Join us in welcoming “The Shot” maker, WNBA pioneer, Liberty legend, and so much more to so many people, @Finisher_11, to @hoophall class of ‘19. We salute her for earning a permanent place among the game’s greatest. #19hoopclass 🗽 pic.twitter.com/suy4QqNmw9
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) September 7, 2019
— Isiah Thomas (@IsiahThomas) September 8, 2019
— Harold LeftyWilliams (@LeftyWilliams42) September 7, 2019
Them HOF vibes 👑 @Finisher_11
— WSLAM (@wslam) September 6, 2019
— WNBA (@WNBA) September 6, 2019
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) September 6, 2019
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) September 7, 2019