Nine individuals will comprise the 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class, it was announced over the weekend.
All-time greats Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan headline the list along with fellow NBA standout Kevin Garnett, with two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich, WNBA star Tamika Catchings, and college coaching giant Eddie Sutton receiving significant media attention. Also selected: Baylor women’s head coach Kim Mulkey and Barbara Stevens, the current coach at Bentley who became the fifth bench boss to collect 1,000 career wins in the NCAA women’s ranks in January 2018.
In addition, the international committee voted in the late Patrick Baumann, the longtime FIBA secretary-general who passed away in 2018.
“He was the head of FIBA and this was a way to honor him,” said Jerry Colangelo, the Basketball Hall of Fame chairman. “It was a special thing done through that committee.”
A year that began with the news of former NBA Commissioner David Stern’s death on Jan. 1 and the tragic news of Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash weeks later will celebrate the latter’s extraordinary career.
‘An amazing class’
Looking at the makeup of the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class, San Antonio Spurs legend Duncan declared: “An amazing class.”
Colangelo put it this way: “This is an incredibly special class, for many reasons.”
Well, for starters, Duncan and Garnett were both 15-time All-Stars, with Kobe Bryant getting the nod 18 times.
The 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony is tentatively set for Aug. 29, though countless events have been postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reaction to Kobe’s induction
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss delivered an eloquent reaction to the news of Bryant’s crowning achievement.
“No amount of words can fully describe what Kobe Bryant meant to the Los Angeles Lakers,” Buss said in a team-issued statement. “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, echoed Buss’ sentiments.
“It’s an incredible accomplishment and honor,” she said. “And we’re really proud of him. Obviously, we wish that he was here with us to celebrate. But it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career. And every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a steppingstone to be here. We’re incredibly proud of him. There’s some solace in knowing he was probably going to be a part of the 2020 Hall of Fame class.”
Duncan: a model of consistency
In the months before the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class is unveiled in Springfield, Massachusetts, it’s the opportune time to look back at Tim Duncan’s career exploits for San Antonio.
After being the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, the Wake Forest product boasts this fact on his CV: He’s the lone player in NBA history to top 1,000 victories with one franchise. The precise figure: 1,009, all of which came under the steady guidance of Gregg Popovich.
What’s more, Duncan amassed a 575 wins playing with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. What does that mean? They are the winningest trio in NBA history.
“It’s kind of the end of the journey here,” Duncan said on ESPN, reacting to the Hall of Fame announcement. “It was an incredible career that I enjoyed so much. To call it a dream come true isn’t even doing any justice to it. I never dreamt I’d be at this point.”
For Hall of Fame voters, it was a no-brainer.
Duncan’s accomplishments speak for themselves. He won five titles before hanging up his shoes in 2016. A 15-time All-Defensive Team honoree, Duncan was the 1998 Rookie of the Year. He also owns three NBA Finals MVP awards and two regular-season MVP trophies.
Garnett carried the Timberwolves
In the current era, Kevin Garnett was the first high-profile star to go from preps to the NBA, preceding Kobe Bryant and man others. Garnett went from Chicago’s Farragut Academy High School to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2005 NBA Draft (No. 5 overall pick).
The impact of Garnett’s versatility, hard work and talents peaked in 2004, when he helped guide the T-Wolves to the Western Conference finals. The frontcourt star’s consistency paved the way for Minnesota’s eight consecutive playoff trips. The Boston Celtics emerged as title contenders after acquiring Garnett, and earned the NBA title in 2008. Garnett returned to the T-Wolves to close out his career, retiring in 2016 with a long list of achievements.
For Garnett, becoming a part of the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class is a big deal.
“This is the culmination,” Garnett was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. “All those hours … this is what you do it for, right here. To be able to be called ‘Hall of Famer’ is everything.”
More about Hall of Famer Garnett
Like the Twin Cities newspapers, the AP chronicled Garnett’s pro career from start to finish.
Succinctly, the AP highlighted Garnett’s career with these pertinent facts: He is “the only player in NBA history with at least 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks, and 1,500 steals.”
“He was beloved by our fans in a way that only a few players experience and will always have a place at Target Center,” Minnesota owner Glen Taylor said. “To be elected in his first year of eligibility validates the impact he had on basketball in Minnesota, the NBA, and around the globe.
“We are so happy for him to receive this recognition.”
Eddie Sutton was the first NCAA mentor to direct four schools to the NCAA Tournament, guiding Creighton, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Oklahoma State to the Big Dance.
Fellow 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Rudy Tomjanovich led the Houston Rockets to back-to-back NBA titles in the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons. The Rockets seized the opportunities sandwiched between the Chicago Bulls’ two three-peats.