Kobe Bryant among eight finalists for Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2020

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Feb. 14 (UPI) — Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant, who was among nine killed in a helicopter crash less than three weeks ago, was named a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Bryant, an 18-time All-Star selection and five-time NBA champion during his illustrious 20-year career with the Lakers, was one of four players and four coaches selected as finalists for the Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 on Friday.

San Antonio Spurs great Tim Duncan, former Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett and ex-WNBA standout Tamika Catchings, along with coaches Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, Kim Mulkey and Barbara Stevens, joined Bryant on the list of finalists.

“When the nominees for the Class of 2020 were announced in December, we knew this class had the potential of being one of the most historic of all time,” Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo said in a statement Friday. “The untimely passing of Kobe Bryant has left us in a state of reflective mourning and we’re proud to honor his legacy while also recognizing seven other individuals who have meant so much to our game.

“We congratulate our finalists and those who have supported them on their journeys, and we look forward to revealing the Class of 2020 at the Final Four in Atlanta.”

Bryant, 41, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others were killed Jan. 26 when their helicopter crashed into a mountainside in Calabasas, Calif. The group was headed to Mamba Sports Academy, a facility that Bryant created and coached at, for a girls basketball tournament when the aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances.

The crash remains under investigation. There were no survivors.

Bryant, an 11-time All-NBA first-teamer, was the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and a two-time winner of the NBA Finals MVP award. He ranks fourth on the league’s career points lists (33,643) and scored a historic 81 points in a single game, the second-most in NBA history.

Duncan was a 15-time All-Star choice and won five NBA titles during his 19-year career with the Spurs. He also won two NBA MVP awards and was named NBA Finals MVP three times.

Garnett was a 15-time All-Star in his 21 seasons between the Celtics and T-Wolves. The nine-time All-Defensive first-team selection won the 2008 championship as a member of the Celtics and secured the league’s MVP award in 2004 after leading the NBA in points and rebounds.

The Hall of Fame’s 2020 class will be finalized and announced April 4 during the NCAA Final Four in Atlanta. Those who are inducted will be enshrined during ceremonies from Aug. 28-30 in Springfield, Mass.