Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headline 2020 Hall of Fame

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Kobe Bryant was already immortal. Now he is also officially a member of the Hall of Fame.

And he has a lot of elite company in the 2020 class.

Bryant and colleagues in the NBA Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a group of nine announced on Saturday as this year’s class of saddlers at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

They all entered the room in their first year of eligibility, as did the excellent WNBA Tamika Catchings. Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich finally got his call, as did long-time Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, 1000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley, and triple coach of Final Four Eddie Sutton.

The eight finalists were announced in February, and the panel of 24 voters who decided who deserved the selection ended up choosing them all. This year too, went to the Hall: the former FIBA ​​secretary general, Patrick Baumann, chosen as directly elected by the international committee.

“He was the head of FIBA ​​and it was a way of honoring him,” said Colangelo. “It was a special thing done through this committee.”

Bryant died in a helicopter crash on January 26, about three weeks before the Hall of Fame said – as if there were going to be any doubt – that he was a finalist. Duncan and Garnett were also widely seen as locks for being in this class; they were both NBA All-Stars 15 times, and Bryant was a selection 18 times.

Bryant was also a five-time Los Angeles Lakers champion, as was Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs.

“This is an incredibly special class, for many reasons,” said Hall of Fame and Sanctuary president Jerry Colangelo.

Catchings was a 10-time WNBA star and four-time Olympic gold medalist. Tomjanovich, who had overwhelming support from his NBA peers who didn’t understand why it had taken so long for his selection, was a five-time star player as player, guided Houston to consecutive titles and won the 2000 US Olympic team at a gold medal.

Mulkey has three NCAA coaching titles, won two more as a player, and had Baylor in a position to compete for another championship this season if the global coronavirus pandemic had not forced nearly everyone to stop world sports. Stevens has coached for 43 years and is a five-time Division II coach of the year. Sutton has won more than 800 games in nearly four decades, and Baumann was one of the most powerful voices in international basketball until his death in 2018.

The ensigning ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts is scheduled for August 29. If the pandemic is delayed, there is also a tentative plan for an October ceremony.

For this year, largely due to the star power of this class, Hall has chosen to declare a one-year suspension from direct elections for the Veterans, Women Veterans, Former African American Pioneers and Contributors categories.

With Bryant, Duncan and Garnett as perhaps the best trio in the NBA to ever compete simultaneously, Hall wanted to make sure no candidate was overlooked.

“We didn’t need to water it,” said Colangelo. “Next year is another year for many. “

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