04/03 13:29 CDT Basketball Hall of Fame set to announce 2020 class
Basketball Hall of Fame set to announce 2020 class
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
A unique Hall of Fame class will be announced Saturday in a unique way.
Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are all expected to be officially
announced as part of the 2020 class of enshrinees by the Naismith Memorial
Basketball Hall of Fame, which typically reveals its annual selections at
college basketball's Final Four. This year, with sports shut down because of
the global coronavirus pandemic, the announcement will be televised from ESPN's
studios in Bristol, Connecticut with some elements of the show taped ahead of
Bryant, Duncan and Garnett, with a combined 11 championships and 48 All-Star
seasons between them, are all first-time finalists and locks to be in this
class. Only six players in NBA history have been selected to 15 or more
All-Star Games --- and Bryant, Duncan and Garnett are three of them.
"We all have criteria we look at in terms of the nominees: All-Star
appearances, All-League, first team, second team, third team, the various
awards, the championships," Hall of Fame Chairman Jerry Colangelo said.
"There's a whole list of things we look at. And each year there's usually one
person who stands out with an array of all those honors. But this time, with
those three, the accumulative is unbelievable."
The announcement could be a ray of light in a dark time for basketball. The NBA
was already grieving the deaths earlier this year of Bryant, the longtime Los
Angeles Lakers star who was killed with his daughter Gianna and seven others in
a helicopter crash, and Commissioner Emeritus David Stern.
Then came the coronavirus, which shut down the league on March 11 and has
stopped so much across the world since. College sports, including the NCAA
men's and women's basketball tournaments, were called off for the remainder of
the academic year. Most states didn't get around to crowning high school state
champions. The WNBA season will be delayed, and even games at the playground on
weekends are no more because of the need for social distancing.
Saturday will, at least for a moment, bring something to celebrate.
"I think we're all looking forward to it," Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
The other first-time finalist for Hall consideration is 10-time WNBA All-Star
and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings.
The other four finalists have all made it this far before, falling short of
enshrinement previously: Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey, five-time Division II
coach of the year and 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley University,
two-time AP college coach of the year Eddie Sutton and Rudy Tomjanovich, who
won two NBA titles as coach of the Houston Rockets.
All of them have Hall-worthy resumes. What remains to be seen is how many of
the 24 voters who will decide the class --- it takes 18 votes for a finalist to
become a Hall of Famer --- agree.
"To be included on such a list and be considered for the Basketball Hall of
Fame is an incredible honor," Stevens said.
It's also expected that the Hall is going to pay tribute in some way to former
FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann, a huge figure in the international
sporting world who died of a heart attack in October 2018.
The induction ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts is still set to take place
on Aug. 29. If the pandemic forces that to be delayed, there is an alternate
plan for a ceremony to happen in October.
Colangelo said the Hall is going to take measures to ensure that all enshrinees
get their deserved moment, and that the news of the year so far --- such as
Bryant's passing and the virus pandemic --- do not overshadow anyone's
"We are going to do this the right way and in a very sensitive way," Colangelo
said. "We want everyone to get their due respect."
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