Kobe Bryant leads latest round of inductees into basketball’s Hall of Fame

Uncasville, Connecticut - Some of the absolute best in basketball during the modern era were among the class of 2020 that was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Tim Duncan (r) and Kevin Garnett (l) were among the 2020 class of inductees at the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday
Tim Duncan (r) and Kevin Garnett (l) were among the 2020 class of inductees at the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The Basketball Hall of Fame welcomed in its new group of inductees on Saturday, but one man was the most notable, even more so due to his untimely absence. Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed away at 41 along with his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers in a January 2020 helicopter crash, was on everyone’s minds coming into the weekend.

The event, while at times somber, was also quite joyous and reflective as several now-legendary contributors to the game of basketball were honored and placed along with the game’s historical elite.

Another headliner during the induction weekend was San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan. Duncan, a five-time NBA champion, 15-time All-NBA selection, 15-time All-Star, and 15-time All-Defensive Team, was one of the NBA’s best and played during the same era as Bryant. He was joined by Kevin Garnett, who had an illustrious resume of his own with one NBA title, the 15 All-Star appearances, 12-time All-Defensive Team selections, and nine All-NBA selections.

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Legendary WNBA player Tamika Catchings was also amongst the inductees. Her career was one for the ages with a WNBA championship, four Olympic gold medals, 12 All-WNBA selections, five Defensive Player of the Year Awards, and one WNBA MVP award.

The rest of the 2020 class consisted of former NBA coach Rudy Tomjanovich, who won two titles with the Rockets in the mid-nineties, college coaches Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton, as well as Patrick Baumann, the late FIBA Secretary-General, who passed away in 2018.

Vanessa Bryant honored her late husband’s legacy

Vanessa Bryant honored her late husband Kobe Bryant's NBA career and life outside of the NBA, during his Hall of Fame induction on Saturday
Vanessa Bryant honored her late husband Kobe Bryant's NBA career and life outside of the NBA, during his Hall of Fame induction on Saturday  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The induction ceremonies were completed with LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. Accompanied by NBA legend Michael Jordan, Vanessa Bryant’s speech honored not only her late husband’s playing career but also his life off the basketball court.

"Thank you for being the best husband and father you could possibly be. Thank you for growing and learning from your own mistakes," she said. Her speech, which she said was completely off-the-cuff, sounded more like a heartfelt conversation between Vanessa and Kobe.

When he retired in 2016, Kobe Bryant had won five NBA titles, one NBA MVP award, and was named to 18 All-Star games, 11 All-NBA First Team selections, and nine NBA All-Defensive First Team selections.

Vanessa Bryant finished her speech by saying, “I'm glad you bet on yourself, you overachiever. You did it. You're in the Hall of Fame now. You're a true champ.”

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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