KANSAS CITY, Mo. — John Stockton and Tim Duncan made their names in college, polished their legacies in the NBA, and retired with resumes that made them a lock for induction into just about any Hall of Fame.
Hard to believe there was a time when a precious few wanted them.
Stockton was an undersized point guard in the Pacific Northwest with competing offers from Idaho and Montana when he decided to continue his family's legacy at Gonzaga. Duncan dreamed of becoming a swimmer before a hurricane wiped out the only Olympic-size pool in the Virgin Islands, turning him toward hoops in the ninth grade — too late for many schools to recruit him but not for Wake Forest.
Yet they made the most of their opportunities, parlaying their college success into careers that surpassed their wildest imaginations, and resulted in spots in the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
"Somebody has to give you a chance somewhere along the line," Stockton said. "Obviously I don't look the part, but someone found something they appreciated in me."
Stockton and Duncan were joined in the 2017 class Monday by Duke standout Jay Williams; Scott May, who led Indiana to the last unbeaten national championship in 1976; Cleo Hill, who played for Hall of Fame member Clarence "Big House" Gaines at Winston-Salem State; Rick Mount of Purdue; Paul Silas of Creighton; and longtime coach Bo Ryan of Wisconsin-Platteville, Milwaukee and Wisconsin.
Their induction ceremony occurred before the start of a doubleheader at the nearby Sprint Center, where UCLA faced Creighton and Baylor played Wisconsin in the semifinals of the CBE Classic.
"What they've done to this, to honor the college game — all facets of the college game — is something special," said Ryan, who had by far the largest contingent of supporters. "We get as much pleasure as you do, seeing all the great players here. But I'll tell you, my head coach in college and high school, he's still mad. He thought I was going in as a player."
Stockton averaged more than 20 points his senior year at Gonzaga, before the school became a perennial powerhouse. He wound up going to the Utah Jazz in the first round of the 1984 draft, and his 19-year career included enough accolades to earn the retirement of his No. 12 jersey.
Stockton went into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, and was enshrined again the next year as part of the 1992 gold medal-winning Olympic team.
Duncan starred for four years at Wake Forest after coach Dave Odom gave the raw ex-swimmer a chance. The national player of the year in 1997, he was chosen first overall by the San Antonio Spurs and ultimately guided them to five NBA championships.
"It's been a great couple of days, just to look back and think about what I did through college, how I worked my way up, and what a career I had," Duncan said. "We don't make it this far without the people around us. Wake Forest gave me the opportunity — coach Odom gave me an opportunity, probably a kid that didn't deserve it. But I took it and I made the most of it."