Arguably the greatest Hall of Fame class in basketball history is now officially set.
In what was a foregone conclusion, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced on Saturday that NBA luminaries Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett will headline the Class of 2020. They will be joined by fellow first-ballot entry Tamika Catchings of WNBA fame.
Also in this year’s class: coaches Rudy Tomjanovich, Eddie Sutton, Kim Mulkey and Barbara Stevens, along with contributor Patrick Baumann, who was the secretary general of FIBA in 2002 before passing away in 2018.
Bryant, Duncan and Garnett combined for 48 All-Star appearances, 11 championships and four Most Valuable Player awards in 60 seasons, defining the NBA after Michael Jordan’s retirement.
The Hall of Fame committee limited the 2020 class in the wake of Bryant’s tragic passing in a helicopter accident this past January, ensuring a tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers legend and his peers in the NBA’s pantheon will shape the induction ceremony scheduled for this summer.
Bryant played 20 seasons for the Lakers, winning five championships on a maniacal quest for greatness. He captured 2008 MVP honors and the Finals MVP award in both 2009 and 2010. An extraordinary scorer, Bryant’s 18 All-Star bids are second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s, and his 33,643 career points rank him fourth behind Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and LeBron James.
Duncan also won five titles in his 19 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, earning Finals MVP honors in 1999, 2003 and 2005. He was the league’s MVP in 2002 and 2003. A silent assassin nicknamed “The Big Fundamental” by fellow legendary big man Shaquille O’Neal, Duncan oversaw the NBA’s winningest franchise of the 21st century. His partnership with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili resulted in the most playoff victories by any triumvirate in league history.
In his 21 seasons, Garnett garnered MVP honors with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004 and the Defensive Player of the Year award with the Boston Celtics in 2008, when he won his lone championship. A beloved teammate and feared opponent, he transformed both franchises in the process. A wonderful blend of length, skill, athleticism and intensity, he is the only player in NBA history to record 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 steals and 1,500 blocks.
The NBA trio of players will fittingly be joined by Catchings, one of the greatest women’s players in the game’s history. A 1998 NCAA champion with the University of Tennessee and the WNBA’s No. 1 overall pick in 2002, her remarkable list of accolades includes 12 All-WNBA selections, five Defensive Player of the Year awards, four Olympic gold medals, the 2011 MVP award and 2012 Finals MVP honors en route to her lone championship in 15 seasons with the Indiana Fever.
Tomjanovich played 11 seasons in the NBA, mostly with the Houston Rockets, but is best remembered for coaching the Rockets to NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. He coached Houston for more than a decade and coached the Lakers for one season in 2004-05.
Sutton began his college head coaching career with Creighton in 1969, before stints with Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State. He coached a final season with San Francisco in 2007-08, finishing with 806 career victories. Sutton was a two-time Associated Press Coach of the Year, earning the honor in 1978 with Arkansas and 1986 with Kentucky. He was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, despite serious NCAA violations at Kentucky that led to his resignation in 1989.
Mulkey has coached the Baylor women’s basketball team since 2000, winning national championships in 2005, 2012 and 2019. She was also the Associated Press College Basketball Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2019. She was a standout guard for Louisiana Tech, winning the AIAW title in 1981 and the first NCAA women’s championship in 1982.
Stevens is an NCAA Division II coaching legend who won a national title in 2014 with Bentley University, which she has been coaching since 1986. She has 1,038 career victories.
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