Kobe Bryant expected to join star-studded Basketball Hall of Fame class after tragic death, chairman says

Kobe Bryant is expected to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility following his tragic death in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday.

Basketball Hall of Fame Chairman Jerry Colangelo told The Athletic that the 2020 class will be one of the best of all time and will include Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan.

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“Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett,” Colangelo told The Athletic. “Kobe will be honored the way he should be.”

According to The Athletic, Bryant will be a part of the standard screening process for possible Hall of Fame inductees on Wednesday. The finalists will be named in February during NBA All-Star Weekend and the formal inductees will be announced at the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four in April.

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Bryant, Garnett and Duncan were the only names mentioned.

The Basketball Hall of Fame announced in December that Chris Bosh, Shawn Merion, Michael Finley, Tamika Catchings and Swin Cash were among the finalists.

Enshrinement will take place in Springfield, Mass., on Aug. 29.

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Bryant was among at least eight others, including his daughter, a baseball coach and his family and another basketball coach, in Calabasas on Sunday.

Bryant was selected in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. He was subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac before the start of the 1996-97 season. It proved to be one of the most important trades in NBA history.

Bryant would help lead the Lakers to five NBA championships and was a part of one of the best NBA dynasties alongside Shaquille O’Neal. Bryant and O’Neal won three straight NBA titles from 1999 to 2002. He then won two rings with Pau Gasol in 2009 and 2010.

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“The Black Mamba” wrapped up his playing career in 2016. He played his final game against the Utah Jazz and finished with an epic performance – 60 points, four rebounds and four assists.

He finished his career as an 18-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA team, 12-time All-NBA Defensive Team selection, two time NBA Finals MVP and the 2008 NBA MVP.

Garnett and Duncan retired in the same season Bryant did.

Kevin Garnett will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Kevin Garnett will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. (Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Garnett played for several teams over the course of his NBA career -- the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets. He won one NBA title, an MVP award and was a 15-time All-Star.

Tim Duncan, like Bryant, won five NBA titles.

Tim Duncan, like Bryant, won five NBA titles. (AP)

Duncan was a part of some of the greatest Spurs teams. He was a five-time NBA champion, 15-time All-Star and 15-time All-NBA selection.