Last weekend, the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame announced the nine inductees to the Basketball Hall of Fame for 2020. The Class of 2020 will be enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts on August 29, 2020.
Due to the unique circumstances brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Election Process Committee suspended the Direct Election Categories for one year except for the International Committee.
The class is headlined by three generational players from the NBA. Led by no less than the legendary Kobe Bryant, the Class of 2020 is considered as one of the best. All eight finalists were inducted and a ninth member in former FIBA Secretary General Patrick was added to bring the Class of 2020 to nine.
Here are the members of the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame Class:
Kobe Bryant is the greatest to play of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Black Mamba led the Lakers to a total of five NBA titles and was one of the most unstoppable scorers the game has ever seen. His 81-point game in 2006 is the second highest-scoring game in the history of the NBA behind only Wilt Chamberlain’s 100.
Bryant was the 13th overall pick of the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 draft straight out of Lower Merion High. He was dealt to the Lakers in one of the most lopsided draft day trades in NBA history. Bryant teamed up with Shaquille O’Neal to form one of the most lethal duos in the league and together they led the Lakers to three straight NBA titles from 2000-02. After O’Neal left, Bryant would give the Lakers two more titles in 2009 and 2010.
He retired in 2016 as the 4th All-time leading scorer in league history. Kobe was the 2008 NBA MVP, a two-time Finals MVP, an 18-time All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA Team member, a 12-time All-Defensive team selection, and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. Bryant died in a helicopter crash last January 26, 2020.
Tim Duncan was the cornerstone of the San Antonio Spurs franchise and helped the team become an NBA dynasty. The Big Fundamental played his entire 19-year NBA career with the Spurs and guided the team to five NBA titles across three different decades.
Duncan was San Antonio’s #1 overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft out of Wake Forest. He joined forces with David Robinson to establish one of the most dominant twin towers combinations in the history of the league. After Robinson retired, he became the center of attraction in San Antonio and went on to become the team’s greatest player ever.
The Big Fundamental won back to back MVP honors in 2002 and 2003 and he was Finals MVP in three of the Spurs’ victories. He was also a 15-time All-Star and 15-time member of the All-NBA team. The 1998 Rookie of the Year also won two gold medals for Team USA at the FIBA Americas tournament.
Kevin Garnett was the 5th overall pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1995 NBA Draft straight out of high school. He was the first player in 20 years to be drafted straight out of high school and is widely considered as the one who paved the way for future high school stars who made the jump to the pros.
The Big Ticket played in a total of 21 NBA seasons and he was a 15-time All-Star and a nine-time member of the All-NBA team. He was also named to 12 All-Defensive teams and was the 2008 NBA Defensive Player of the Year winner. KG was also All-Star Game MVP in 2003 and the NBA MVP in 2004.
After a turbulent tenure in Minnesota, he moved to the Boston Celtics where he joined Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo in winning the 2008 NBA championship. KG is the only player in NBA history to have at least 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks, and 1,500 steals during his career.
Eddie Sutton is a retired college basketball coach who had 36-year coaching experience in the NCAA Division I. He is the first head coach to lead four different schools to the NCAA Tournament, reaching the Final Four with two different schools. The 84-year old from Bucklin, Kansas is one of only eight coaches to have more than 800 wins. He was named as the AP Coach of the Year in 1978 and 1986. He finished his coaching career with a record of 804-328.
Rudy Tomjanovich is best known as the head coach of the Houston Rockets who led the team to back to back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. Rudy T. also coached the U.S. men’s basketball team to the gold medal during the 2000 Olympics. As a player, he was the 2nd overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft by the San Diego Rockets. He played from 1970 to 1981 and was a five-time NBA All-Star. Tomjanovich had a career average of 17.5 points and a 50.1% shooting in the NBA.
Tamika Catchings is the current General Manager and VP of Basketball Operations for the Indiana Fever of the WNBA. Catchings played 15 seasons for the Fever and helped the team win the WNBA title in 2012. She was the WNBA MVP in 2011 and Finals MVP in 2012. Catchings is the WNBA’s all-time playoff leading scorer and rebounder. She played on three gold medal-winning Olympic teams as well.
Barbara Stevens is a five-time WBCA National Division II Coach of the Year and 16-time NE-10 Coach of the Year. She won 17 NE-10 championships and the NCAA Division II National Championship in 2014. Stevens became the fifth women’s basketball coach to hit the 1,000 win milestone in 2018. She was inducted to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. Stevens is the current head coach for the women’s basketball team for Bentley University.
Patrick Baumann was the former Secretary-General of FIBA and ex-president of the Global Association of International Sports Federations. The Swiss basketball executive joined FIBA in 1995 as Deputy Secretary-General and was promoted to Secretary-General beginning 2003. He is widely credited for supporting the growth of 3X3 basketball. He died of a heart attack while attending the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina.