Former NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant attends a promotional event organized by the sports brand Nike, for the inauguration of the infrastructure improvements of a local basketball playground at the Jean-Jaures sports hall “Le Quartier”, in Paris on October 21, 2017.
Philippe Lopez | AFP | Getty Images
It wasn’t much a surprise, but this weekend, it became official. The late Kobe Bryant is a Hall of Famer.
Bryant along with eight others, were selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, officials announced. Tim Duncan, the longtime San Antonio Spurs forward, and ex-Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett will also be inducted.
Honorees will be officially enshrined in on Aug. 29 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Finalists needed 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee to be elected.
The longtime Lakers guard died in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash, which also killed his daughter, Gianna, and seven others. A memorial service was held for the Bryants on Feb. 24 at Staples Center.
Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss called Bryant a”proven winner,” in a statement
“He gave everything he had to the game of basketball. His fierce competitiveness, work ethic and drive were unmatched,” Buss said in the statement. “Those qualities helped Kobe lead us to five titles – and have now brought him to the Hall of Fame, where he will be enshrined with the greatest to have ever played the game. No one deserves it more.”
Bryant, the five-time NBA champion and two-time Finals MVP, also received another honor when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the All-Star MVP is now named the Kobe Bryant MVP Award, honoring his 18 appearances in the game.
“It seemed like the appropriate way to bring honor to him,” Silver said at the NBA’s All-Star Weekend event in February.
Longtime Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey, who led the Bears to three NCAA titles, and 10-time WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings were also elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Bryant was a big advocate of women’s basketball, as Gianna became interested in the sport he dominated in his career. In a Jan. 17 interview with CNBC, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, who played eight seasons in the WNBA, praised Bryant’s appreciation for women’s hoops.
“He got more involved and was just beginning to be that voice for so many women that maybe didn’t have a strong voice or as big or as loud or carried as much weight as his did, and still does,” Hammon said. “The women’s game lost a real advocate and someone who truly believed that women can do anything.”
John Doleva is the CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. He called the 2020 class “one of the most historic of all time.”
Doleva said: “We thank the Class of 2020 for all they have done for the game of basketball and we look forward to celebrating them at Enshrinement in August.”