CHICAGO — It was a bittersweet moment to hear Kobe Bryant’s name called as a Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Finalist and for him not to be there to hear it.
Friday the Hall of Fame announced the eight finalists for induction into the Hall of Fame this year, and — as we had known for years — this is a stacked class. The timing, not long after Kobe’s passing, seemed to make it all the more poignant.
This year’s nominees are:
• Kobe Bryant. A lock to be enshrined (the director of the Hall of Fame has said as much), he is also fully deserving with a resume that includes 18-time NBA All-Star, 11-time All-NBA First Team, five-time NBA Champion and two-time Finals MVP, the 2008 NBA MVP, nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member, he is fourth on the NBA All-Time scoring list, plus Bryant earned two Olympic gold medals.
• Tim Duncan. The San Antonio legend is a five-time NBA champion and three-time Finals MVP, two-time NBA MVP, he was a 15-time NBA All-Star, an eight-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member, Rookie of the Year, and Duncan is the only player in NBA history with 1,000 or more wins with one team. At Wake Forest, he was a three-time First Team All-American and won the AP College Player of the Year award.
• Kevin Garnett. An NBA champion and NBA MVP, KG is a 15-time NBA All-Star, nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, Defensive Player of the Year, and he has an Olympic gold medal.
• Tamika Catching. A WNBA MVP and champion, she is a 10-time WNBA All-Star and won four gold medals with Team USA.
• Rudy Tomjanovic. He is the only person in NBA history to score 10,000 points as a player and win 500 career games with two championships as a coach. He coached two Rockets teams to titles and the 2000 Olympic team in Sydney to gold.
• Kim Mulkey. She coached the Baylor Bears to three national titles, and she won one herself as a player.
• Barbara Stevens. The coach of Division II powerhouse Bentley University, she is the fifth coach in NCAA women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 career wins.
• Eddie Sutton. He coached four schools to NCAA Tournament and won more than 800 games as a college coach.
Those finalists will be voted on and the Hall of Fame class of 2000 will be announced during the NCAA Final Four.
If you’re looking for snubs — or, more likely guys getting in on future ballots — there is Chris Bosh (two-time NBA champion, 11-time All-Star), Shawn Marion, and Chauncey Billups. I’d also say the impact Chris Webber had as part of the Fab 5 at Michigan in college then as a pro should have him in the Hall of Fame.
Four inductees on the media side were named as well: Mike Breen (Knicks/ESPN/ABC broadcaster), Mike Wilbon (Washington Post/ESPN for print), the Inside the NBA show and crew on TNT, and Jim Gray.