The 2020 enshrinement of the Naismith Pro Basketball Hall of Fame will be a bittersweet one.
The late Kobe Bryant is among a group of prominent first-ballot inductees, including Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, as reported by Yahoo Sports.
Vanessa Bryant, Bryant’s widow, on Saturday spoke to ESPN on the news of his posthumous induction.
“We’re extremely proud of him,” she said sitting alongside her eldest of four daughters, Natalia. “Obviously, we wish he was still here with us to celebrate, but it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career and every accomplishment he had as an athlete,” she added.
“We’re incredibly proud of him.”
Vanessa and Natalia Bryant joined Rece Davis after Kobe’s induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. pic.twitter.com/HX31pyvgPe
— ESPN (@espn) April 4, 2020
Bryant, the retired guard of the Los Angeles Lakers, tragically lost his life in a helicopter crash in late January, along with 13-year-old daughter Gianna, a basketball star in her own right affectionately known as GiGi. Seven others on board, including the pilot, also perished in the California incident that sent shockwaves around the world.
The NBA honored both Kobe and Gianna Bryant with several tributes during the regular season and All-Star Weekend. The season was abruptly cut short in March due to coronavirus.
Bryant was seen as a lock to be inducted into the Hall of Fame 2020 class, his first year of eligibility. He played his entire 20-year career with the Lakers in an honorific career that produced 18 All-Star selections, five Finals championships and one MVP award.
Joining Bryant in the hall this year are fellow first-ballot honorees Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, along with retired coaches Eddie Sutton and Rudy Tomjanovich.
Kobe. KG. Tim Duncan.
Three legendary careers, and now, they’re Hall of Famers 👏 pic.twitter.com/qOwPcCUJ8n
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 4, 2020
Garnett was a 15-time all-star power forward in his 21-year career, winning the 2004 MVP and a 2008 NBA championship. Duncan, a 15-time All-Star, played all of his 19 years with the San Antonio Spurs, winning back-to-back MVP awards in 2002 and 2003 and five championships.
Bryant is the latest member of the legendary 1996 NBA Draft class to get into hall of fame. He was preceded by Allen Iverson, Ray Allen and Steve Nash.