Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has been posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame according to an official announcement by the organization on Saturday.
Bryant played 20 seasons in the NBA, all with the Los Angeles Lakers. Over those 20 years, he was an 18-time NBA All-Star, the 2007 NBA MVP, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, and a five-time NBA Champion.
Typically, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has a three-year waiting period between the time a player's career officially ends and when they can be under consideration for induction. Bryant's official induction on Saturday comes less than three months after he was killed alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA.
In addition to Bryant, former Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, and San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan were also formally inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Similar to Bryant, Garnett was drafted straight out of high school in 1995, and played 22 seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets. He won his sole NBA championship in 2007-2008 against Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Garnett was a 15-time NBA All-Star and the 2004 NBA MVP Award winner.
Like Bryant, Duncan was also a five-time NBA Champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP. His San Antonio Spurs teams often clashed with Bryant's Lakers in the playoffs, as the two legends shared a mutual respect and admiration for each other on and off the court. Like Garnett, Duncan was also a 15-time NBA All-Star and the 1998 NBA Rookie of the Year winner. He was also named the NBA MVP in back-to-back seasons in 2002 and 2003.
“We all have criteria we look at in terms of the nominees: All-Star appearances, All-League, first team, second team, third team, the various awards, the championships,” said Jerry Colangelo, the Hall of Fame Chairman. “There’s a whole list of things we look at. And each year there’s usually one person who stands out with an array of all those honors. But this time, with those three, the accumulative is unbelievable.”
Ordinarily, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announces its 2020 class of enshrines during the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament, but with its cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic, the official announcement was televised live on ESPN.
The in-person induction ceremony will be held on August 29 in Springfield, MA. It is unknown who will speak on behalf of Kobe Bryant during the induction ceremony.