This year’s class of inductees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was shaping up to be legendary. Now it will have a shade of sadness attached to it.
Kobe Bryant was in his first year of eligibility for the NBA’s greatest living monument and his name was in consideration on the ballot with some pretty high-profile names. The final list of inductees hasn’t been announced yet — well, except for one.
Bryant will be enshrined on August 29 in Springfield, MA as part of the Class of 2020, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania. He will be a first-ballot selection and take his deserved place alongside fellow Laker greats like Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, and Jerry West.
“Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett,” Hall-of-Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “Kobe will be honored the way he should be.”
The rest of the Hall-of-Fame class will be announced in April. Other nominees include Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh, Tim Hardaway, Shawn Marion and Tim Duncan.
President of Basketball Hall of Fame Remembers Kobe
John Doleva is the CEO and President of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
On Sunday, Hector Molina of WWLP 22 News in Springfield, MA asked Doleva about what Kobe Bryant meant to the game and his upcoming enshrinement. The Hall of Fame draped their sign in purple and gold out of respect.
“Inspiration in basketball, a powerful person in basketball, you know, five championships, 18 All-Star games, eligible to come into the Basketball Hall of Fame this summer,” Doleva told Molina. “We were so looking forward to it. To have this happen, I mean, this is just unbelievable, surreal.”
For Bryant, it was never about the end goal. He always wanted to be great and put in the hard work to become one of the greatest to ever do it. When the Lakers retired both his jerseys — No. 8 and No. 24 in an emotional number-retirement ceremony in December 2017 — Bryant talked about “the dream.” That dream was more about the journey than the accolades.
“Those times when you get up early and you work hard,” Bryant said at his number-retirement ceremony, via Inc. “Those times you stay up late and you work hard. Those times when you don’t feel like working. You’re too tired. You don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream.”
Garnett, Duncan Comment on Bryant’s Death
Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan will no doubt be joining Kobe Bryant in the Hall of Fame this year.
The induction ceremony is slated for Aug. 29 and they will be up on that stage delivering speeches. However, they won’t have their good friend and rival up there next to them. The world will never get to hear Bryant’s Hall-of-Fame speech.
Garnett often talked about his respect for Bryant. His favorite moment was being on the court and joking around with him during Bryant’s first career All-Star game at Madison Square Garden in 1997. Garnett connected with him on what he called the “alley-oop from God.”
“There are no words that can describe how everybody feels about it,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters. “We all think about the family and the process that they are going to be going through now. That’s where all our thoughts should be.”