SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- Paul Pierce scoffed when he heard it, an unexpected -- and unnecessary -- apology from Roy Williams during the North Carolina coach's induction speech into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
"He feels like he let down his players. That tells you what type of person he is," Pierce said. "But I feel like I failed him because we didn't win more."
Williams was inducted into the Springfield shrine in a series of ceremonies over the weekend that wrapped up on Saturday when the enshrinees received their members' rings. He thanked his family and his coaching mentor, Dean Smith, but he also turned to some of his former players in the audience and said with a cracking voice, "I failed you, because I didn't get you to the Final Four."
"He didn't fail me, he aided me," said Raef LaFrentz, the former Kansas forward who is heading into his 10th year in the NBA. "That's him, man. That's him in a nutshell. He's always thinking about the players.
"He was the biggest aid I can think of. He got me to where I am at."
About two dozen of Williams' former Kansas and North Carolina players posed for a picture with Williams on the dais after Friday night's ceremony, including Pierce, LaFrentz and Charlotte Bobcats forward Sean May, a former Tar Heel wearing a Carolina blue suit.
Williams also showed his gratitude to Smith, who presented him for induction, saying he could never match Smith's accomplishments and hoped he could merely make his Hall of Fame mentor proud.
"It's genuine," Smith said. "He's tough on himself -- too much so."
Williams has a 530-131 record and six coach of the year awards to his credit, with 15 straight 20-win seasons and 18 consecutive NCAA tournament berths. He took Kansas to the Final Four four times, but never won it all until 2005, after he had moved to North Carolina.
He's the third coach in NCAA history to take two schools to the championship game.
"Just wait: He's going to keep it going," Smith said. "And it will be within the rules and everything."
Also honored were Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson; the 1966 NCAA champion Texas Western team; four-time WNBA championship coach Van Chancellor, the longtime women's coach at Mississippi recently hired by LSU; former NBA referee Mendy Rudolph; and international coaches Pedro Ferrandiz of Spain and Mirko Novosel of Yugoslavia.
Former USA Today, Chicago Tribune and New York Times writer Malcom Moran and longtime Phoenix Suns broadcaster Al McCoy were honored with the Curt Gowdy Media Award. Dikembe Mutombo was the first recipient of the Mannie Jackson-Basketball's Human Spirit Award, named for the Harlem Globetrotters chairman and given for using basketball to help the community.
Texas Western was the first team in NCAA history to win a title with five black players, beating an all-white Kentucky team in the 1966 final. The achievement is considered a turning point in the integration of college athletics, and it was the subject of the movie "Glory Road."
"Our only purpose was to be the best team in the country," said captain Harry Flournoy, who spoke on behalf of the team. "We didn't have a social agenda. But God had an agenda, and he chose us to open doors -- not only for black people, but for all people who had doors shut in their face."