WASHINGTON – Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant featured prominently on Friday on the eve of his posthumous induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame alongside NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.
The trio are among nine members of the 2020 Hall of Fame class who are late inductees due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The celebration takes place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, to better enable social distancing.
But the current Hall in Springfield, Mass., Is also unveiling a special exhibit in honor of Bryant which President John Doleva says will become the sanctuary’s “most discussed” exhibit.
“The family had time to think about what they wanted to do,” Doleva said at Friday’s press conference ahead of the induction.
“It’s about Kobe’s accomplishments, but also about what Kobe was after leaving the Lakers, after leaving basketball.
NBA icon Michael Jordan, who spoke emotionally at Bryant’s memorial service last year after the superstar’s death on Jan.26, 2020 in a helicopter crash, will pay tribute to Bryant at the ceremony for enthronement, where those who are consecrated are traditionally presented by a loved one.
Bryant was also on the minds of his fellow inductees.
“Your biggest competition brings out the best in you,” said Duncan, who spent all of his 19 NBA seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, winning five championships. “And that’s what he’s always done.
Duncan’s Spurs and Bryant’s Lakers have met seven times in the NBA playoffs in their careers.
“You always had to look your best and do your best from start to finish whether you were playing against him or any of his teams, and I think that’s what I like to remember playing. against him and to be on the pitch with him.
Duncan will be presented by fellow Spurs legend David Robinson.
Bryant’s Lakers faced off against Garnett’s Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals and all three retired from the NBA at the end of the 2015-16 season.
“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,” said Garnett, who was drafted in high school by the Minnesota. Timberwolves.
He spent more than 10 years in Minnesota, where he was hungry for regular title chances before arriving in Boston in 2007 and winning his only career title in 2008.
“Both are class artists and amazing players,” he said of Bryant and Duncan. “I am very privileged, if I am being honest. Ever since I entered the league, it’s like a dream, and it’s no different.
Four-time Olympic gold medalist and women’s NBA star Tamika Catchings will also be listed, along with two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovic.
Catchings was a childhood friend of Bryant, their fathers playing both with the Philadelphia 76ers and in Italy.
“I just remember calling my parents,” she said, hearing about a Kobe Bryant drafted in high school, “and saying, ‘This is the Kobe we were just being in Italy with, is not 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.”
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