SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Scottie Pippen thanked the player who meant so much to him on the court.

Karl Malone remembered the person who meant the most to him in life.

Pippen and Malone were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, recognized as individuals and as part of the Dream Team.

Pippen opened his acceptance speech by praising Michael Jordan, his fellow six-time NBA champion from the Chicago Bulls for being “the best teammate.”

“MJ, you have touched so many people’s lives, but none quite like mine,” Pippen said.

A little-known player from Central Arkansas when the Bulls got him in 1987, Pippen was the first player inducted during the enshrinement ceremony at Symphony Hall. With Jordan standing nearby on stage as his presenter, Pippen said he would “cherish their relationship forever.”

“Who knew that No. 23 would be here 23 years later presenting me to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame?” Pippen said.

The presenter does not speak.

Malone struggled with his emotions throughout his speech, especially at the end when he recalled his mother, saying she had died seven years ago Friday.

“I’m here because of her,” he said.

Malone also thanked late Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller for believing in him. Malone is a two-time MVP and second on the league’s career scoring list, and said his success came from staying true to his Louisiana roots.

“I hope I did it the way my peers did it before me,” Malone said. “I didn’t do anything but try to play hard.”

The 2010 class also includes the Dream Team that won the 1992 Olympics, and the 1960 U.S. gold medalists. Pippen and Malone played with Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird on the 1992 team, and Bird was nearing retirement because of a bad back and had to be persuaded by Johnson to play.

“Pretty good way to go out, winning the gold medal,” Bird said.

He was joined on the stage by the entire Dream Team. All the living members of the 1960 team also attended the festivities.

Earlier Friday, Jerry West said he believe his group of college players that won its eight games in Rome by 42.4 points per game was “the greatest amateur team that ever played.”

Oscar Robertson, the team’s other co-captain, agreed and urged all players to take part in the Olympic experience if they have the chance.

“I think that any time an athlete gets an opportunity to play for your country, he should accept it,” Robertson said.

Charles Barkley might agree. He called the summer of 1992 one of the greatest times of his life, and pointed to the Dream Team’s 10 individual Hall of Famers as proof of its greatness.

So were the team’s eye-popping stats: 117.3 points per game, a victory margin of 43.8 per game. Still, Barkley said it wasn’t quite that easy.

“That was probably one thing that we never got credit for. It’s easy to sit there and say you’re going to win every game by 40 or 50 points, but we went out and actually did it,” he said Friday morning during a press conference. “We knew we were going to win the games, but to play at such a high level the entire time was incredible.”

Cynthia Cooper, the first Hall of Famer from the WNBA, coach Bob Hurley of St. Anthony’s High School in New Jersey, and Lakers owner Jerry Buss also were inducted. Dennis Johnson, former Baltimore Bullets star Gus Johnson and Brazilian Maciel “Ubiratan” Pereira were enshrined posthumously.

Dennis Johnson, who died in 2007, was a favorite teammate of Bird’s and respected for his tenacious defensive play. His wife, Donna, cried during the press conference as she tried to say how she proud she was and offer thanks for her husband’s long-awaited induction.

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