Milwaukee Bucks: Sidney Moncrief thanks fans, takes his place in the Hall of Fame

SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 6: (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 6: (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Surrounded by Milwaukee Bucks luminaries, Sidney Moncrief finally took his place in the Hall of Fame on Friday, and made special mention of the Wisconsin fans.

In a moment Milwaukee Bucks and NBA fans had waited many years for, Sidney Moncrief was finally inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night in Springfield, MA.

Moncrief was inducted on the night alongside former teammate Jack Sikma, and continues a recent influx in Bucks being enshrined, which will hopefully continue next year with Marques Johnson.

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There was no shortage of legendary Bucks figures in attendance for the ceremony either, and when Moncrief took to the stage to deliver his speech, he was flanked by two of the most notable among them in the form of former coach Don Nelson and center Bob Lanier.

Of course, with Moncrief playing all but one of his professional seasons in Milwaukee, the Bucks were a central and ever-present feature of his speech.

With the night that was in it, Moncrief paid special tribute to Sikma and Lanier, noting he was “blessed to play with two of the best and most intelligent centers to ever have played the game of basketball.”

Other former Bucks players who get a special mention included Junior Bridgeman, Harvey Catchings, who Moncrief noted is currently recovering from heart surgery, and Brian Winters.

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Winters received further tribute, along with Nelson, as Moncrief discussed how his famed defensive skills were shaped upon his arrival in Milwaukee as an NBA player:

"“Through those years, [Winters] taught me the discipline of how to play defense, along with Coach Nelson. When I came from Arkansas, playing for Coach [Eddie] Sutton, I was a very good defender but I wasn’t an NBA defender. I’ll never forget Don Nelson telling me in a practice session, ‘You can’t play defense like this in the NBA, you’ve got to get up into that player and be more physical.'”"

Considering Moncrief went on to claim two Defensive Player of the Year awards and carve out a reputation as one of the best two-way players to ever play the game, it’s safe to say he took that advice in his stride and put it into practice.

The 62-year-old also had kind words for the fans throughout Wisconsin, along with the owners and key executives he worked with throughout his years of association with the organization:

"“Most of all I want to thank the fans of the great states of Arkansas and Wisconsin, and then Milwaukee. Now, Jerry [West], I know you picked Magic [Johnson]. I know you were in L.A. and had all that fun, but I loved the city of Milwaukee. The Bucks organization — John Steinmiller is here, Wayne Embry is here — we appreciate you guys. Herb Kohl, the late Jim Fitzgerald was a great friend of ours and so instrumental in helping the Milwaukee Bucks be the great franchise that we see today.”"

Perhaps most importantly of all, though, Moncrief reflected on this ultimate honor as a great opportunity to acknowledge what basketball has taught and given him over the years, and how it has served him well in so many other aspects of his life.

"“I take great pride in being inducted into this hall, but when I was trying to think ‘what do you talk about’, it’s not really about me. It’s not about a speech. It’s about the game of basketball. The game of basketball that has changed everyone’s life in this room. It’s a wonderful game, and I’m just very blessed and fortunate to know that the game taught me to prepare for opportunities, how to execute strategies, how to compete unconditionally, and how to adjust when you experience setbacks.”"

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With Moncrief having assumed his rightful place in the Hall of Fame, one of the great long-running injustices associated with that institution has now been righted. Moncrief had long since assured he’d live on in Milwaukee forever, and now he’ll be similarly immortalized in Springfield.