Katrina McClain, Georgia Basketball's first National Player of the Year and a three-time U.S. Olympian, was officially enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame during ceremonies at Springfield's Symphony Hall on Friday night.
McClain opened her elegant and thorough acceptance speech by thanking her fellow inductees and her parents.
"What an honor," McClain said. "I am so proud and humbled to a part of such an amazing group of athletes who have meant so much to the game. I have so many people to thank.
"My mom and dad...I call them the backbone of my game," McClain continued. "My mom had to take six or eight of us to practice. I have three kids now, and I don't know how she did it. Every day, she made sure we were on time and we ate before we got there. My dad, my dad stressed education and our provided spiritual values and guidance and everything that we represent today. That carried us right to this day. Thanks to both of them."
McClain then turned to individuals who have meant the most to her career, including Andy Landers.
"I had a great people in my life who helped me along the way," McClain said. "Coach Landers. Wow. What can I say? I thought I was prepared for Georgia because we ran so much in high school...but I wasn't. I remember when he was recruiting me, Coach Landers told me I could be the greatest player in the world. He also told me if I wanted easy don't come to Georgia. Coach Landers helped me really realize that you had to go out there and work hard. Coach helped us all understand that education came first. He stressed that, that we were there to get an education. And if we didn't get that, we didn't get to play.
"Still today, I can pick up the phone and call Coach Landers and we'll spend and hour on the phone," McClain continued. "The only thing I didn't get when I was at Georgia was a national championship. I still hope that Coach Landers gets that national championship. Coach, I still pray that you get that national championship."
McClain was one of a dozen new inductees in the Class of 2012, which also included Reggie Miller and Ralph Sampson.
"When you have the God-given ability and put forth the blood, sweat and tears that Katrina McClain did, you're destined to do great things," Landers said. "She's achieved a lot of wonderful accomplishments at Georgia and internationally and professionally but none any greater than her induction tonight."
McClain's collegiate career provided the winningest four-year span in Lady Bulldog history. Georgia was 116-15 from 1983-84 through 1986-87 and finished as 1985 NCAA runners-up and as 1984 and 1986 SEC Champions.
McClain was the first-ever SEC Freshman of the Year in 1984, a consensus two-time, first-team All-American in 1986 and 1987 and National and SEC Player of the Year in 1987. As a senior, she established five Georgia season records that still stand - points (796), points per game (24.9), field goals made (310), free throws made (176) and free throws attempted (240).
Career-wise, McClain owns Georgia's field goal percentage record, connecting on an amazing 62.0 percent of her shots from the floor. In addition, she ranks No. 3 in points (2,195), No. 2 in rebounds (1,193), No. 2 in free throws made (449), No. 2 in free throws attempted (616), No. 2 in field goals made (873), No. 9 in field goal attempts (1,407) and No. 2 in blocked shots (290).
"I think of Georgia being the bulk of my career," McClain said on the red carpet entering the Symphony Hall. "Of all I learned about basketball, I think learned the most from Coach Landers. Everyone in Athens - from my teammates who helped me so much to the assistant coaches to the academic staff like Glada (Horvat) who worked with us on our academics and helped us realize that our education was what was tops - means so much to me."
While still in Athens, McClain began establishing herself as one of the top players in the world. During the summer of 1986, she helped lead the United States to two major international titles at the Goodwill Games and the World Championships.
McClain went on to become the second woman (joining Georgia teammate Teresa Edwards) and third player overall (joining Edwards and David Robinson) to represent the U.S. in basketball at three Olympics. She was the leading scorer for the 1988 U.S. Olympic team which won the gold medal in Seoul, South Korea and then won a bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Games. McClain capped her international career with a gold medal at the 1996 Centennial Games in Atlanta, where she was the United States' leading rebounder (8.3 rpg) and second-leading scorer (14.1 ppg) while connecting on 73.9 percent (51-of-69) of her field goal attempts.
McClain also enjoyed a successful professional career in Japan, Italy, Spain and Turkey before joining the ABL's Atlanta Glory for the 1997-98 season.
The Naismith honor represents the sixth Hall of Fame to induct McClain. She was enshrined into UGA Athletics' Circle of Honor in 1997, the State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, the State of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and the U.S. High School Hall of Fame in 2010.
Teresa Edwards delivered a heart-felt and emotional induction speech to celebrate her inclusion into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night.
Upon taking the stage at Springfield's Symphony Hall, Edwards immediately spoke to Andy Landers, her coach and mentor at the University of Georgia.
"OK, Coach Landers....I'm nervous now," Edwards joked. "I never knew I could be here. I'm beginning to feel the prestige of the moment."
Edwards went on to thank numerous influences.
"Tonight is about the Hall of Fame," Edwards said. "It's about all the women who played before I came. It's about Lucia Harris. It's about Lynette Woodard. It's about the All-American Red Heads. It's about the women who played 3-on-3 in skirts. It's about all who played who we'll never know their names."
Edwards then talked about watching Julius "Dr. J" Irving and attempting to emulate his abilities on a "basketball goal" consisting of a bicycle tire nailed to a pine tree and Michael Jordan, who she called him the greatest player ever.
She then thanked her mother, Mildred, for the sacrifices she made and told the crowd that making her mother proud is what drove her the most throughout her career.
"After tonight, I'm forever changed because you recognized my name with my game," Edwards said. "For Coach...the University of Georgia...for everyone from Cairo...we're in the Hall of Fame, baby."
Edwards led Cairo High School's Syrupmaids to a state championship before helping Lady Bulldog Basketball ascend among the nation's premier programs from 1983-86.
Edwards became a three-time All-American for Georgia, including consensus first-team honors in 1985 and 1986. She helped the Lady Bulldogs compile a 116-17 record, capture the 1983, 1984 and 1986 SEC Championships, reach the 1983 Final Four and finish as 1985 NCAA runner-up.
The summer after her sophomore year in Athens, Edwards was the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic team that won the Gold Medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. She went on to become the only American basketball player to participate in five Olympics, winning additional Gold in 1988, 1996 and 2000 as well as a Bronze Medal in 1992.
Ranked No. 22 overall among Sports Illustrated's 100 greatest sportswomen of the 20th century, Edwards has now been inducted into seven halls of fame. Previously, she was inducted into the State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, the U.S. National High School Sports Hall of Fame, the UGA Athletic Association's Circle of Honor, the Grady County (Ga.) Hall of Fame, the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.