NBA All-Star weekend: who were the Hall of Famers in 2020?
The 2020 Hall of Fame class will be particularly memorable for being the year LA Lakers legend, Kobe Byrant, was posthumously enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 went down as one of the most impressive in history, with nine honorees officially enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball, on Saturday, 29 August 2020.
Three former NBA players, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, and one former WNBA star, Tamika Catchings, made up the Class of 2020, along with four coaches – four-time National Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton, two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich, three-time NCAA National Championship coach Baylor Kim Mulkey and five-time Division II National Coach of the Year Barbara Stevens – as well as long-time FIBA executive Patrick Baumann.
“The Class of 2020 is undoubtedly one of the most historic of all time and the talent and social influence of these nine honorees is beyond measure,” said John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, following the Class of 2020 announcement last April.
The 2020 Hall of Fame class will be particularly memorable for being the year LA Lakers legend, Kobe Byrant, was posthumously inducted into the prestigious list of the sport’s greatest-ever players.
The announcement of Bryant’s induction into the Hall of Fame came less than three months after the former shooting guard was tragically killed in a helicopter accident on 26 January, 2020 at the age of just 41. Following the announcement, Kobe's wife, Vanessa Bryant, spoke about her late husband's induction.
“It's an incredible accomplishment and honor, and we're extremely proud of him," Vanessa said. "Obviously we wish that he was here with us to celebrate, but it's definitely the peak of his NBA career and every accomplishment he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to be here. So we're incredibly proud of him.”
The former shooting guard spent his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers (1996-2016), winning five championships and the 2008 MVP award. The Lakers star also played in 18 NBA All-Star games, and was named the All-Star game MVP on four occasions. With 33,643 points scored during his career, he is fourth in the all-time points leaderboard, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malon and LeBron James, and ahead of Michael Jordan in fifth.
Like Kobe, Tim Duncan was also a one-team man, playing the entirety of his 19-year career with the San Antonio Spurs (1997-2016), before a one-year stint as the team’s assistant coach in 2019-20.
Also like his fellow 2020 Hall of Famer, he won five NBA championships, however he tips Byrant in number of MVP awards following back-to-back wins in 2002 and 2003. The power forward made the roster for 15 NBA All-Star games, winning the MVP on one occasion in 2000. With 26,496 points, he is 15th in the all-time points scorer leaderboard. He and Kobe came up against each other in the postseason on six occasions, with Duncan and the Spurs winning two of those matchups to Byrant and the Lakers’ four victories.
After receiving word of his induction, Duncan looked back on his remarkable NBA career. “I was blessed with some amazing teammates, organization, coach ... just individuals here and there. We were blessed with the fact that we got to win championships. We got to have those experiences, but as much as those championships are highlights, the things that you remember too are the losses, the regrouping of individuals, the people you looked to and counted on to pick up the pieces and go right back at it. There's nothing I would change, it was a blessing all the way through.”
Like Duncan, Kevin Garnett was an NBA All-Star on 15 occasions (1997-1998, 2000-11, 2013), three fewer than Byrant. Widely regarded for the passion and intensity with which he played the game, the South Carolina former power forward won one NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008, the year he was also named Defensive Player of the Year.
Active from 1995 to 2016, Garnett played the first 12 years of his career at the Minnesota Timberwolves, before a six-year and two-year stint at the Celtics and Brooklyn Nets, respectively. He returned to the Wolves to play out his last season in 2015-16. Having played 21 NBA seasons, he is currently ranked fourth in all-time minutes played (50,418) and sits ninth in the all-time rebounds leaderboard.
“You put countless hours into this. You dedicate yourself to a craft. You take no days off. You play through injury... This is the culmination,” Garnett told ESPN after he was chosen for the 2020 Hall of Fame. "All those hours of everything you’ve ever put up for it all, this is what you do it for right here. To be able to be called a Hall of Famer is everything."
Tanika Catchings was another one-team player, seeing out her entire illustrious WNBA career with the Indiana Fever. During her 14 WNBA seasons, she made 10 WNBA All-Star teams (2002, 2003, 2005-2007, 2009, 2011, 2013-2015), won four Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016) with the US national team, and five WNBA Defensive Player of the Year awards (2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012).
After being named the WNBA MVP in 2011, she led the Indiana Fever to a WNBA championship in 2012 and was named a member of the WNBA Top 20 Players in the league’s 20-year history in 2016. She currently serves as vice president of basketball operations and general manager of Indiana Fever.
“I am incredibly honored to be included in this year’s Naismith Hall of Fame, and God only knows the dreams I had as a little girl to be able to follow in my father’s footsteps,” Catchings said following her nomination. “I am so thankful to stand alongside so many amazing men and women that have come before me.”