It was an unforgettable night Friday at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. Part of that reason was the speech given by Rebecca Lobo, a 2017 inductee and one of the greatest women’s basketball player’s of all-time.
The former UConn player, NCAA champion and WNBA player, who now serves as a basketball analyst, gave an incredibly genuine, funny and warm speech with UConn head coach Geno Auriemma by her side.
She thanked her family, coaches and mentors before touching on a variety of subjects, including just how far women’s basketball has come.
“Professional basketball didn’t exist in the United States when I was a kid, but playing professionally was a dream of mine,” Lobo said. “When I was in the sixth grade, I wrote a letter to Red Auerbach, and said, ‘I’m going to be the first girl to play for the Boston Celtics.’ I wasn’t, but because of David Stern, Adam Silver, Val Ackerman, Renee Brown, I was able to realize that dream in the WNBA. Now I get to watch my oldest daughter light up when she talks about Breanna Stewart, or my 11-year-old beam when she puts on her Tina Charles jersey. I have three daughters who play basketball, so the WNBA means even more to me now than it did when I was playing in it.”
Lobo added a little anecdote to reinforce her point.
“We watch a lot of women’s basketball in our house because that’s my job, and when my oldest daughter was about 5 years old, it was March Madness, so I was on the road calling a basketball game, and my husband was watching the UConn men’s team, and my 5-year-old came in, looked at the TV, and she said, ‘Daddy, are those boys playing basketball?’
“He said, ‘Yes, they are.’
“Then she said, ‘I didn’t know boys play basketball, too.'”
It was a fun-filled night in which she even made Larry Bird blush.
This is going to be hard to top. pic.twitter.com/b6AmyhRtXt
— Rebecca Lobo (@RebeccaLobo) September 8, 2017
Here’s her speech in full:
Congratulations, Rebecca Lobo. Thanks for playing such a big role in advancing the game.