“The family had time to think about what they wanted to do,” Doleva said at Friday’s press conference for each of the 2020 inductees. [It’s] on Kobe’s achievements but also on what Kobe was after leaving the Lakers, after leaving basketball. “
Doleva said the exhibit at the Hall of Fame, located in Springfield, Massachusetts, was created through a collaboration between Vanessa Bryant and the trading card company Panini, among others.
“I almost feel like this is the next step, which could have been the next, for Kobe,” Doleva said. “So he looks back, looks at the present and has a sense of the future, which I find fantastic.
“I think this will be the most talked about and loved exhibit at the Hall of Fame. “
The Kobe Bryant exhibit at the Hall of Fame, designed by Vanessa Bryant.
– SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 14, 2021
Bryant was the only member of the star-studded 2020 class – which includes Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett – who was not represented at Friday’s press conference. Vanessa Bryant prepared a statement in lieu of answering questions which was read by Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, who hosted Friday’s event.
“Kobe is honored to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” Vanessa Bryant said in the statement. “I look forward to celebrating Kobe’s legacy and making my remarks at the dedication ceremony tomorrow. On behalf of our family, we appreciate the continued love and support from fans around the world. “
Unsurprisingly, much of Friday’s discussion centered on Bryant, who has a connection to several members of the class. The most prominent of these are Duncan and Garnett, two other first-ballot Hall of Fame members who have spent decades fighting Bryant throughout their careers. Both spoke of the admiration they had for their longtime nemesis on the ground.
“Your biggest competition brings out the best in you,” said Duncan, “and that’s what he always did. You always had to look your best and do your best from start to finish whether playing against him or any of his teams. , and I think that’s what I enjoy remembering playing against him and being on the pitch with him.
« [He was] a fierce competitor and always more demanding of him and his teammates than was probably possible. But he wanted to win so much, he wanted to win so badly, and it was an honor to share the court with him. “
Garnett said, “You can go through the list of big names in the NBA and I couldn’t pick two best players, not just that, but two best people to walk into the room with. Both are class artists and amazing players. I I am very privileged, if I am honest. Ever since I entered the league, it’s like a dream, and it’s no different. I am honored. ”
“I almost feel like this is the next step, what could have been next, for Kobe. So he looks back, looks at the present and has a sense of the future, which I find fantastic. I think this is going to be the most talked about and loved exhibit at the Hall of Fame. “
John Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, on Kobe Bryant’s new exhibit
Duncan has spent his entire career with the San Antonio Spurs, winning five championships in his 19-year career. He will be presented by his lifelong Spurs compatriot David Robinson on Saturday and said he was excited for the “colleagues” of the Spurs family who will join him soon, including coach Gregg Popovich and his longtime teammates Manu Ginobili and Tony. Parker.
“Throughout my time, throughout our time there, who are the amazing teammates I have had there and the teammates I hope to do this for in the years to come,” said Duncan. “The city of San Antonio was the perfect place for me. The city, the fans, the organization, all along the line, and I’m honored to represent him here. “
Garnett, on the other hand, spent over a decade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, most often suffering from quick playoff outings, before landing with the Boston Celtics in 2007 as the last piece of what turned out. being a championship puzzle in 2008. – the only title in Garnett’s career.
It was a move Garnett was initially reluctant to make, but now he says he wished he had done it sooner.
“That meant everything, man,” Garnett said. “You come into the NBA with the desire to win, and losing is part of it. It doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Going to a legendary franchise like Boston gave me life, gave me life, gave me purpose, and the players who you play actually make the experience monumental, make it magical. The city was waiting for something big or different to happen than where it was, and when you win you never look back. The fan base in Boston was over. the top… Fan love in Boston was on another level, but I learned to accept it.
“My only regret in all of this is that I should have come to Boston a little earlier. Other than that, it’s magic.
Following this week’s closing of a deal by the Timberwolves for a sale to billionaire businessman Marc Lore and legendary baseball player Alex Rodriguez, Garnett has been asked about his complicated relationship with the team. over the years, most notably with owner Glen Taylor.
But Garnett said he doesn’t regret his time in Minnesota and thanked Taylor, former general manager Kevin McHale and the late Flip Saunders for trying his luck on him in the first place.
“Nothing is to regret,” Garnett said. “I think whatever I learned in Minnesota I was able to take to Boston and become a better player and a better teammate. I had a better relationship with [Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck] because of the situations and things that I went through in Minnesota.
“Minnesota took a chance on me. I have no regrets. I thank Glen, I thank Kevin, I thank Flip Saunders for giving me the opportunity to be drafted and for giving me the canvas to come here and give me the chance to come here and show the world. Kevin McHale was a great teacher. Having great teammates like Sam Mitchell and Terry Porter gave me some benchmarks. So no, I don’t regret any of this. Without [Minnesota], I don’t know if I’m the same player that goes to Boston, you know?
“So no, I don’t regret anything. If anything, thanks. “
Another inductee, WNBA legend Tamika Catchings, also has a long and unique bond with Bryant: Their fathers played with the Philadelphia 76ers and against each other in Italy, so the two future members of the Hall of Fame knew each other as children.
“It’s a blessing,” Catchings said. “I mean, it’s crazy to think, and a lot of people will ask for Kobe, a lot of people will ask what it was like to grow up. And we were just children. I think neither. at that point, we would never dream of the road we were on and the opportunity we had, both of our fathers playing, being in a foreign land, not necessarily the typical life of a child.
“I just remember calling my parents [when Bryant was drafted out of high school] and saying, “This is the Kobe we were just in Italy with, isn’t it?” And yes it was.
“So he went to the pros, I went to college, four years later, I went to the WNBA, and the rest is history. ”