Kobe Bryant’s resume has another entry that proves its size: he’s now officially a Hall of Famer.
And he has a lot of elite society in the 2020 class, one that can be as dazzling as any other.
Bryant and the other NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett led a group of nine that was added to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a class this Saturday.
They all came to the hall in their first year, as did the great Tamika Catchings of the WNBA. The two-time NBA master coach Rudy Tomjanovich finally got his reputation, as did long-time Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, Bentley’s 1000-game winner Barbara Stevens and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton.
They were the eight finalists announced in February, and the 24 voters who had to decide who deserved to be selected selected them all. Also in the hall this year: the former FIBA General Secretary Patrick Baumann, who was selected by the international committee as a direct election.
“He was the head of FIBA and this was a way to honor him,”
Bryant died in a helicopter crash on January 26, about three weeks before the Hall of Fame said – as if there were any doubt – that he was a finalist. Duncan and Garnett were also generally considered locks to be part of this class. They were both 15-time NBA All-Stars and Bryant was an 18-time selection.
Bryant’s death was part of a tough start to basketball: retired Commissioner David Stern died on January 1st, Bryant and his daughter Gianna were under nine who died in the fall of January, and the NBA closed on March 11th as Die Coronavirus pandemic began to hit the United States
“Of course we want him to be with us to celebrate,” said Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife, on the ESPN class announcement broadcast. “But it is definitely the highlight of his NBA career and every performance he has had as an athlete has been a stepping stone to being here. We are incredibly proud of him.”
Bryant was also a five-time Los Angeles Lakers champion, as was Duncan at the San Antonio Spurs.
“This is an incredibly special class for many reasons,” said Colangelo.
Garnett is the only player in NBA history with at least 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks and 1,500 steals. He was also part of the 2008 NBA title in Boston.
“This is the high point,” said Garnett. “All these hours … you do it right here. Being able to be called “Hall of Famer” is everything. “
Catchings was a ten-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist. Tomjanovich, who had overwhelming support from NBA colleagues who couldn’t understand why his selection was taking so long, was a five-time all-star player, led Houston to successive titles, and won the US 2000 Olympics team a gold medal.
Mulkey has three NCAA titles as a coach, won two more as a player, and had Baylor able to fight for another championship this season if the global coronavirus pandemic hadn’t forced the shutdown of virtually all sports around the world. Stevens has been training for 43 years and is a five-time Division II coach of the year. Sutton won more than 800 games in almost four decades, and Baumann was one of the most powerful voices in international basketball until his death in 2018.
The inauguration ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts is scheduled for August 29. If the pandemic is delayed, there is also a preliminary plan for an October ceremony.
For this year, mainly because of the star power of this class, the hall decided to suspend direct elections for one year in the categories veterans, women veterans, early African American pioneers and contributors.
With Bryant, Duncan and Garnett as perhaps the best NBA trio that ever joined at the same time, the hall wanted to make sure no enshrinee was missed.
“We didn’t have to water it down,” said Colangelo. “For many, next year is another year.”
Suggest a correction