Where Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and the Basketball Hall of Fame 2020 class rank among the best groups of all time


Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class 2020 was officially announced Saturday, with Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Tamika Catchings headlining a group of players, coaches and contributors. It is without a doubt one of the best Hall of Fame basketball classes we have seen, which led us to question the last time we saw such an impressive group of players inducted into the same year.

In fact, this doesn’t happen very often, as the big players of all time tend to be dispersed in terms of induction years due to the retirement of players at different times. For example, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, inextricably linked to their college days, were inducted four years apart. Other classes have huge headliners but lack depth – 1995 featured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Cheryl Miller, arguably the best male and female basketball players of all time, but n was not among the top five.

Here’s where we say that everyone who makes the Hall of Fame is a legend in their own right, so this is not meant to take away anyone’s accomplishments. There were tough cuts, of course, but when in doubt, we relied on Basketball Reference’s all-time benchmark list as a tiebreaker. Here are the top five classes in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

5. Class of 2008

  • Adrian Dantley, player
  • Patrick Ewing, player
  • Hakeem Olajuwon, player
  • Pat Riley, coach
  • Catchy Rush, coach
  • Bill Davidson, contributor
  • Dick Vitale, contributor

There was a lot of competition for fifth place, but the power of the stars and the championship pedigree of Olajuwon and Riley helped push them over the top. Olajuwon (19), Dantley (33) and Ewing (39) are all in the top 40 of the NBA winning streak, and no matter what you think of Vitale, it has certainly helped promote the game of college basketball to new heights.

4. Class of 2018

  • Ray Allen, player
  • Maurice Cheeks, player
  • Grant Hill, player
  • Jason Kidd, player
  • Steve Nash, player
  • Dino Radja, player
  • Charlie Scott, player
  • Katie Smith, player
  • Tina Thompson, player
  • Ora Mae Washington, Player
  • Charles “Lefty” Driesell, coach
  • Rod Thorn, contributor
  • Rick Welts, contributor

While he cannot carry the weight of an all-time top 10 player, he is arguably the deepest class in the history of the Basketball Hall of Fame. He has three of the top 40 NBA winners (Allen, Kidd and Nash), as well as two of Thompson and Smith’s most accomplished basketball players. Cheeks, Hill and Scott add to the depth of the NBA, while Radja was an incredible international player. Driesell, Washington, Thorn and Welts complete an incredible class with their various contributions.

3. Class of 1980

  • Oscar Robertson, player
  • Jerry Lucas, player
  • Jerry West, player
  • Les Harrison, contributor
  • Everett Shelton, coach
  • Dallas Shirley, referee

Led by Robertson, West and Lucas, this class definitely gives 2020 a run for its money. There may be a bias towards modern players in the victory share statistics, but Robertson (10th), West (20th) and Lucas (89th) did not quite match Duncan, Garnett and Bryant in this department, and it also lacks depth. You will not hear any complaints if you rank this class before 2020 because it contains some of the best players in NBA history.

2. Class of 2020

  • Kobe Bryant, player
  • Tamika Catchings, Player
  • Tim Duncan, player
  • Kevin Garnett, player
  • Kim Mulkey, coach
  • Rudy Tomjanovich, coach
  • Barbara Stevens, coach
  • Eddie Sutton, coach
  • Patrick Baumann, contributor

This year’s class comes just behind the top group with Duncan and Garnett in the top 10 NBA winning streak and Bryant in 16th position. These three players combined to win 11 NBA titles, with Catchings adding a WNBA championship to the mix. Mulkey has won three national titles as head coach of Baylor and Tomjanovich has won two as head coach of the Houston Rockets, so this group is extremely well decorated when it comes to winning.

1. Class of 2009

  • Michael Jordan, player
  • David Robinson, player
  • John Stockton, player
  • Jerry Sloan, coach
  • C. Vivian Stringer, Coach

It’s hard to pretend it’s not the best Hall of Fame class ever. Led by Jordan, the greatest basketball player who has ever lived by most judgments, the 2009 class also includes Stockton and Robinson – sixth and 13th respectively, in NBA victory shares. Add Sloan and Stringer, two legendary coaches, and that completes the class perfectly.

Honorable mentions

Promotion of 1987

  • Rick Barry, player
  • Walt Frazier, player
  • Bob Houbregs, player
  • Pete Maravich, player
  • Bobby Wanzer, player

Class of 1993

  • Walt Bellamy, player
  • Julius Erving, player
  • Dan Issell, player
  • Dick McGuire, player
  • Ann Meyers, player
  • Calvin Murphy, player
  • Uljana Semjonova, player
  • Bill Walton, player

Class of 1995

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, player
  • Anne Donovan, player
  • Vern Mikkelsen, player
  • Cheryl Miller, player
  • Aleksandr Gomelsky, coach
  • John Kundla, coach
  • Earl Storm, referee

Class of 2006

  • Charles Barkley, player
  • Joe Dumars, player
  • Dominique Wilkins, player
  • Geno Auriemma, coach
  • Sandro Gamba, coach
  • Dave Gavitt, contributor

Class of 2016

  • Zelmo Beaty, player
  • Allen Iverson, player
  • Yao Ming, player
  • Shaquille O’Neal, player
  • Cumberland Posey, player
  • Sheryl Swoopes, player
  • Tom Izzo, coach
  • John McClendon, coach
  • Jerry Reinsdorf, contributor
  • Darell Garretson, referee


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