Basketball Hall of Fame Class 2020: Lakers’ Kobe Bryant Headlines

Kobe Bryant, Lakers

Getty Kobe Bryant, Lakers

A little more than four months after he died tragically in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant will be given his spot among basketball’s greats. The Naismith Hall of Fame will announce on Saturday that Bryant will be inducted into basketball’s shrine with the Class of 2020.

The enshrinement ceremony is scheduled for August 29, though that could be changed because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Hall of Fame class is usually announced during the NCAA’s Final Four, which has been canceled.

Bryant would have been a first-ballot All-Star had he been subject to a vote. But after his death, the Hall of Fame waived the requirement that his career be subject to a vote, an unprecedented step.

He will be the 27th Lakers inducted and will be part of a star-studded class that includes two of the greatest power forwards in basketball history, Spurs forward Tim Duncan and Timberwolves and Celtics star Kevin Garnett. Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich also reportedly will be announced as an inductee. Four-time NCAA Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton is also expected to be announced.

Enshrinement rules call for a player to be retired for four years. Bryant retired in 2016, as did Duncan and Garnett. The trio has 48 All-Star appearances, four MVP awards and 11 championships among them.

‘Most Epic Class Ever’

In January, chairman of the Hall of Fame Jerry Colangelo told The Athletic that the upcoming class could make a case for being the most prominent in the history of the HOF and that Bryant’s death would be fittingly respected.

“Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett,” HOF chairman Jerry Colangelo says. “Kobe will be honored the way he should be.”

Shortly after Bryant’s death, a spokesman for the Hall of Fame said in a statement, “The Hall of Fame joins the rest of the basketball world in mourning the untimely passing of Kobe Bryant, a nominee for the Class of 2020 and an icon of the game. We offer our sincerest condolences to the Bryant Family and all of those affected by this tragedy. We look forward to announcing our Finalists at NBA All-Star Weekend and revealing the full Class of 2020 at the NCAA Men’s Final Four in April.”

NBA Used All-Star Weekend to Honor Bryant

The Hall of Fame, located in Springfield, Mass., is expected to include special ceremonies in inducting Bryant this year, just as the NBA has done.

Bryant died on January 26 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., while taking his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, to a basketball tournament. Gianna and seven others (John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan) perished along with Bryant.

In February, the NBA dedicated its All-Star weekend to Bryant’s memory. Players participating in a variety of events wore patches with Nos. 2 and 24—the numbers worn by Gianna and Kobe Bryant, respectively—surrounded by nine stars, one for each of the crash victims.

In the All-Star game, players for Team LeBron wore No. 2 and all players for Team Giannis wore 24.

The league also instituted a scoring change incorporating Bryant’s jersey No. 24. In each of the first three quarters, the teams will play for a local Chicago charity, the winner of each quarter getting $100,000 for that charity. (If there is a tie, the money rolls into the next quarter.)

Commissioner Adam Silver also announced that the All-Star Game’s MVP trophy, which Bryant won four times, would be renamed for Bryant.

“Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game,” said Silver in a statement at the time.  “He always relished the opportunity to compete with the best of the best and perform at the highest level for millions of fans around the world.”

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