LOS ANGELES (AP) – Kobe Bryant was already immortal. Now he's officially a Hall of Famer as well.
And he's got plenty of elite company in the 2020 class.
Bryant and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a nine-person group announced Saturday as this year's class of enshrinees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
They all got into the Hall in their first year of eligibility, as did WNBA great Tamika Catchings. Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich finally got his call, as did longtime Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey, 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton.
They were the eight finalists who were announced in February, and the panel of 24 voters who were tasked to decide who merited selection wound up choosing them all. Also headed to the Hall this year: former FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, selected as a direct-elect by the international committee.
"He was the head of FIBA and this was a way to honor him," Colangelo said. "It was a special thing done through that committee."
Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, about three weeks before the Hall of Fame said — as if there was going to be any doubt — that he was a finalist. Duncan and Garnett were also widely perceived to be locks to be part of this class; they were both 15-time NBA All-Stars, and Bryant was an 18-time selection.
Bryant was also a five-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, just as Duncan was with the San Antonio Spurs.
"This is an incredibly special class, for many reasons," Hall of Fame Chairman and enshrinee Jerry Colangelo said.
Catchings was a 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist. Tomjanovich, who had overwhelming support from NBA peers who couldn't understand why it took so long for his selection, was a five-time All-Star as a player, guided Houston to back-to-back titles and took the 2000 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal.