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Hall of Fame Weekend!


It was a memorable weekend for me at the Final Four in San Antonio.

I had goosebumps was shaking and had tears flowing down my face when I received a call from Jim Haney telling me I was going to be inducted into the National College Basketball Hall of Fame.

It was so special as the NABC has honored so many great people involved in the college game. I was so happy to see the class of 2008 included the likes of Charles Barkley, Danny Manning, Billy Packer, Arnie Ferrin, Nolan Richardson, Jim Phelan and yours truly.

The College Basketball Hall of Fame is a terrific facility. They have done a fantastic job there and I had the great thrill of speaking there last year. They inducted a phenomenal class that included Lew Alcindor, Lefty Driesell, Vic Bubas and Dick Groat. It was a special moment and I was in awe to be there.

Now to be inducted into that shrine, well, it is simply amazing. It thrills me beyond believe to receive such an honor.

Then I got the call notifying me that I was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. It was unbelievable and I have so many people to thank, starting with my family. I just wish my mom and dad were still alive to see this because they taught me things I feel are so important in life, such as a strong work ethic, loyalty, family and love.

My brother and sister have always been so special. My wife Lorraine and my daughters Sherri and Terri (as well as their husbands, Chris and Thomas) have always been so supportive. I am so thrilled and elated that my five grandchildren will see me get inducted into Springfield.

I am so happy that I am alive to cherish this moment. It is an incredible moment to me because I was a fan of college basketball way before I ever got on ESPN.

The network gave me an opportunity at a time of my life when I was struggling. I had just been fired by the Detroit Pistons and I did not know where things were going. I owe so much to the late Scotty Connal for giving me a chance. It has been 29 incredible years.

I have to thank all of my colleagues and all the people I have worked with. I cannot thank all the play-by-play people enough for allowing me to be myself. I cannot name them all, but they have been so special to me.

There have been so many individuals over the years, the producers, directors, people behind the scenes, the research people like Howie Schwab and loads of public relations staff. Mike Soltys and Josh Krulewitz in PR worked religiously to get the word out, showing their belief that I deserved this.

Whether I deserved this honor or not, it was beautiful to have the voters feel I did.

I cannot thank all of the coaches enough. Guys like Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski have meant so much to me. Bob was incredible and had me in tears when he told me he had letters from all of the living Hall of Fame college coaches sent on my behalf. He did that on his own and went out of his way. I cannot thank him enough for that.

Believe me, I can go on and on about the players I coached in high school, college and the pros. There were people I coached with on different levels and have meant so much to me and my family. Now to know I will be among those that I have admired, respected and been in awe of, it makes me shake.

To be in the Hall with names I watched for years, guys like Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Lew Alcindor, Red Auerbach, John Wooden is simply a huge wow moment!

Man this country is the greatest of all because if this honor can happen to me, a former sixth grade teacher in New Jersey, it can happen to so many others.

To ESPN president George Bodenheimer and all the people at the network, I love you so much. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I got an opportunity of a lifetime that I will cherish forever. The memories are just incredible and I am so thrilled with the news of the weekend, going into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City and the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.

It is simply awesome, baby with a capital A!

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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