Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was among nine people elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the organization announced Saturday.
Bryant, who died Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas at the age of 41, retired in 2016. He helped lead the Lakers to five NBA championships during his career, winning two scoring titles on his way to 33,643 points, which put him fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
“No amount of words can fully describe what Kobe Bryant meant to the Los Angeles Lakers,” Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss said Saturday. “Kobe was not only a proven winner and a champion, he gave everything he had to the game of basketball. His fierce competitiveness, work ethic and drive were unmatched. 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’s widow, Vanessa, told ESPN on Saturday that the HOF election was the “peak of his NBA career.”
“Obviously we wish that he was here with us to celebrate,” she said. “We’re incredibly proud of him. And there’s some solace in (Kobe) knowing that he was probably going to be a part of the 2020 Hall of Fame class.”
Also named to the hall were Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Rudy Tomjanovich, Eddie Sutton, Tamika Catchings, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens and Patrick Baumann.
Tomjanovich — who coached the Houston Rockets to two NBA titles and played in the league for several years — coached the Lakers for part of the 2004-05 season.
The entire 2020 class will be inducted Aug. 29 in Springfield, Massachusetts.