Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett and six others will everlastingly be basketball legends as it was declared they would be cherished in the 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The Hall of Fame’s declaration was deferred from the NCAA’s Final Four weekend in Atlanta after the competition was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it comes barely two months after Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash.
Kobe Bryant, who passed on Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash, and individual NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett featured a nine-man group all got into the Hall in their first year of qualification, as did WNBA extraordinary Tamika Catchings. Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich, at last, got his call, as did long-term Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, 1,000-game-winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton.
They were the eight finalists who were declared in February, and the panel of 24 voters who were tasked to decide who justified selection injury up picking them all. Likewise headed for the Hall this year: previous FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann selected as a direct-elect by the international committee.
“He was the head of FIBA and this was a way to honor him,” Colangelo said. “It was a special thing done through that committee.”
Kobe Bryant died around three weeks before the Hall of Fame said – as though there would have been any uncertainty – that he was a finalist. Duncan and Garnett were additionally generally seen to be locked to be part of this class; they were both 15-time NBA All-Stars, and Bryant was an 18-time selection.
Kobe Bryant was a five-time champ with the Lakers, similarly as Duncan was with the San Antonio Spurs.
“This is an incredibly special class, for many reasons,” Hall of Fame Chairman and enshrinee Jerry Colangelo said.
Catchings was a 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist. Tomjanovich, who had overpowering help from NBA peers who couldn’t comprehend why it took such a long time for his selection, was a five-time All-Star as a player, guided Houston to consecutive titles and took the 2000 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal.
“We wish that he was here with us to celebrate but it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career and every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to be here. So we’re incredibly proud of him, and there’s some solace in knowing that he was probably going to be part of the 2020 Hall of Fame class,” Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, said in an interview with ESPN, as she started to choke up.
John Doleva, the president and CEO of the Hall of Fame, said this class was “undoubtedly one of the most historic of all time,” particularly during a period of tragedy and hardship for basketball.
“In 2020, the basketball community has suffered the unimaginable loss of iconic figures Commissioner David Stern and Kobe Bryant, as well as the game itself due to COVID-19,” Doleva said. “We have also banded together like never before in appreciation of the game and those who have made it the uniting force it is today.”
Kobe Bryant, Duncan, and Garnett consolidated for 48 NBA All-Star game appearances, the vast majority of any trio who retired in the same season. They are inducted close by basketball coaches Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, Kim Mulkey, and Barbara Stevens as well as WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings and French basketball executive Patrick Baumann.
The moment, in any case, is especially poignant as a result of the recent, abrupt passing of Kobe Bryant, considered one of the most elite players to dominate the basketball court for the NBA.
“He was one of the greatest competitors who stepped on the court and made sure his impact was felt on both sides of the ball,” the Hall of Fame said of Bryant.
The all-time leading scorer for the Los Angeles Lakers during his 20-year professional career, Kobe Bryant got one of the greatest basketball stars in modern history. The country came to reflect Bryant’s career after he passed on in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old girl Gianna Bryant on Jan. 26.
“All of us can trust that this Basketball Hall of Fame honor is one Kobe would, and will, deeply appreciate,” Lakers Vice President and General Manager Rob Pelinka said. “The highest of congratulations to you, dear friend. This one is so well deserved — for all the hard work, sweat and toil. Now, a part of you will live in the Hall with the rest of the all-time greats, where your legend and spirit will continue to grow forever.”