Chris Webber pays tribute to Pistons legend Isiah Thomas in HOF speech

By Rod Beard

It's been a week for Chris Webber, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., on Saturday night.

During his acceptance speech, Webber spoke about the impact that one of his childhood idols, Pistons legend Isiah Thomas, had in helping him make it to the NBA and beyond.

"You protected me from the vultures," Webber said, "That's why I never had to take a penny from anyone."

The second part of the comment was a reference to one of the legacies of Webber's career, the Ed Martin scandal at Michigan. Webber and the university seemed to be on the road to reconciling, as Webber said this week that he received a private apology from current athletic director Warde Manuel — a claim that Manuel refuted.

"To the student body, alumni, faculty and staff at the University of Michigan, I flat-out love you," Webber said during his induction speech.

Webber spoke about his Fab Five teammates — Juwan Howard, the current Michigan coach, Jalen Rose, Ray Jackson and Jimmy King — and coach Steve Fisher, and the impact that they made with the Wolverines. He thanked Thomas in a heartfelt tribute and spoke about Turkey Stearnes, star of the Detroit Stars of the Negro Leagues.

Webber also had a special mention for his former Pistons teammates, including Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Joe Dumars, saying, "It was an honor to be able to play in my city with you guys."

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