*There’s something different about the 2020 class of the Basketball Hall of Fame finalists. The list that includes Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett is obviously smaller than usual.
According to Hall chairman Jerry Colangelo, the list is smaller because “of the enormity, even before Kobe’s death, that we think Kobe and Duncan and Garnett bring to [the class].”
Along with the three NBA legends as finalists are Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, NBA coach Rudy Tomjanovich, Bentley University women’s coach Barbara Stevens, longtime men’s college coach Eddie Sutton, and WNBA player Tamika Catchings.
The list of eight was announced at the United Center on Friday during NBA All-Star Weekend. The announcement was accompanied by explanations that the Hall had chosen to cut down the size of the group and remove some “direct-elects” because, as Colangelo said afterward, “We’ve never had a class that strong at the top.”
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The helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his daughter and seven others drew even more attention to that top. Hall of Fame decision-makers feared it would draw attention away from other deserving inductees. So, shortly after the crash, Colangelo and those decision-makers met in Dallas. First and foremost, “we had to grieve his death,” Colangelo said. Then, “the way we dealt with it is that we weren’t gonna submit a lot of names. We were gonna make it a small class. We want everyone to get their due. … Because some people could get lost in the shuffle, in terms of getting their due. So that was the logic.”
The next step now for the Hall of Fame: Figure how to celebrate Bryant and other inductees in a proper, respectful manner on Aug. 29.
“We’re talking a great deal about it,” Colangelo said. “We haven’t concluded anything yet. But it’s got to be handled in a very, very delicate manner. … We’ll have a gameplan.”