Kobe Bryant will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, bypassing the normal election process following the helicopter crash that claimed his and his daughter's lives, as well as seven others, in California on Sunday.
The Athletic's Shams Charania reported the news. When asked to confirm, a spokeswoman for the Hall of Fame provided a statement that did not address whether or not the institution will forego the traditional induction process for Bryant. However, Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo did make it sound as though Bryant's induction is a foregone conclusion.
'Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett,' Colangelo told Charania. 'Kobe will be honored the way he should be. Bryant was part of a 2020 class of nominees that included many of his greatest rivals, such as Tim Duncan, Tim Hardaway, and Kevin Garnett, who preceded the Lakers legend in jumping straight from high school to the NBA.
To be inducted into the Hall of Fame, a player must be retired for three full seasons. Bryant retired in 2016, and would have likely been chosen in April, but officials waived the customary vote. It is not clear who will induct Bryant, but there will be no shortage of candidates, including his former coach, Phil Jackson, or teammates such as Shaquille O'Neal, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, or Derek Fisher.
'For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning,' NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. 'He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary ... but he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.' The rest of the Hall of Fame class will be announced in April.
Bryant will certainly be remembered for his accomplishments, such as his five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, two Olympic gold medals, and for scoring more points than all but three players in league history. (He was actually surpassed by LeBron James on Saturday) But Bryant's most memorable quality was his unwavering self confidence.