Walker's ties to the state of Michigan were on display throughout his speech. He talked about playing for a state championship in high school against fellow NBA Hall of Famer Dave DeBusschere, who played at Austin Catholic.
Two of Walker's presenters, Adrian Dantley and Isiah Thomas, are Detroit Pistons legends. Walker, who was known for his footwork and pump-fake - former teammate Billy Cunningham said of the move, "You know what he's going to do, and you're still going to leave your feet," - joked with Dantley, who was also known for his jab-step and pump-fakes.
"I sat around for years watching him (Dantley) steal all my moves that got me to the Hall of Fame," Walker said as Dantley laughed and nodded on stage.
Walker also produced a made for T.V. movie about Mary Thomas, mother of Isiah, called, A Mother's Courage: The Mary Thomas Story.
"She basically eliminated all of the gang activity on the west side of Chicago," Walker said. "They should rename Michigan Avenue after her."
Walker, however, was arguably more important to the game as it is today off the court than on it. Curtis Harris of Yahoo!'s Ball Don't Lie explains:
Under the archaic and repugnant "reserve clause" a team still retained a player's rights for one year after their contract expired. The Bulls refused to negotiate with Walker on a new salary, and then refused to trade or release him. He was held in limbo and his lawsuit to free himself from the Bulls eventually failed. Refusing to play for the Bulls, Walker's career thus came to its inglorious yet principled end.
Walker discussed the fact that NBA players in his era were mostly not well-compensated, and he acknowledged the monumental struggle that he and others had with the league, which eventually resulted in players being granted free agency.
"We went to court, filed a lawsuit and eventually won free agency, which meant that players could now make more money," Walker said in his speech.
Walker was thankful to teammates and others who helped him in his life, but turned to former teammate Billy Cunningham when he had a hard time discussing his own on-court credentials. "Would you say something about me? I can't promote myself," he said to Cunningham, one of his presenters.
Thomas, Dantley, Earl Monroe and Cunningham were Walker's presenters.
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