Bryant, Garnett, Duncan highlight HOF finalists

CHICAGO — The late Kobe Bryant leads a list of eight finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, announced Friday at United Center as part of NBA All-Star Weekend.

Bryant is one of four first-time finalists, along with 15-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan, 15-time NBA All-Star and nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection Kevin Garnett, and 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings.

Garnett, who was drafted out of Chicago’s Farragut Academy, won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008 and was league MVP in 2004.

“One of the more overwhelming moments of my life,” Garnett said Friday. “I’m more than honored.”

Repeat finalists include three-time NCAA national championship coach Kim Mulkey of Baylor, five-time Division II national coach of the year Barbara Stevens, four-time national coach of the year Eddie Sutton and two-time NBA championship coach Rudy Tomjanovich.

“When the nominees for the Class of 2020 were announced in December, we knew this class had the potential of being one of the most historic of all time,” said Jerry Colangelo, Hall of Fame chairman. “The untimely passing of Kobe Bryant has left us in a state of reflective mourning and we’re proud to honor his legacy while also recognizing seven other individuals who have meant so much to our game. We congratulate our finalists and those who have supported them on their journeys, and we look forward to revealing the Class of 2020 at the Final Four in Atlanta.”

The new class will be revealed April 4.

Citing the “unique circumstances and magnitude” of the potential Class of 2020, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Election Process Committee suspended the Direct Election Categories for one year with the exception of the International Committee. The goal of this suspension is to provide each enshrinee with the recognition and notoriety he or she deserves upon election, Colangelo said.

The Class of 2020 will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., on Aug. 29.

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