There was never any question if Kobe Bryant would make the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on the first ballot this year — he was a Fort Knox-level lock.
That also is true of Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, who along with Kobe, were all nominated for the Hall in this year, their first year of eligibility. The trio will unquestionably be members of the 2020 class (Chris Bosh should be a lock as well, but we’ll see how voters treat him).
Now, in the wake of Kobe’s untimely death in a helicopter crash along with his daughter Gianna and seven others, Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo assured Shams Charania Kobe will be part of the 2020 class.
Kobe Bryant will be a first-ballot enshrinement into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2020.
"Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett," HOF chairman Jerry Colangelo says. "Kobe will be honored the way he should be."
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 27, 2020
Kobe’s Hall of Fame resume is unassailable:
• Five-time NBA champion
• NBA MVP
• Two-time Finals MVP
• 15-time All-NBA player
• 18-time All-Star
• Two-time scoring champion
• Two-time Gold Medalist for Team USA
• Retired the third-leading scorer in NBA history (now fourth)
Yet none of that touches on how Kobe became an international brand that spread love for the NBA globally, particularly in China and the Philippines. None of that touches on how he influenced the generation who came up after him. His work ethic was legendary and was part of what rubbed off on LeBron and many others.
Fortunately, the Basketball Hall of Fame and its voters have not gotten hung up on the weird first-ballot nonsense we see in baseball. Kobe will be in.
You can be sure his enshrinement will be emotional.