When Kobe Bryant died in a tragic helicopter accident in California on Sunday, he was not yet in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Players must wait three years after retirement before they can be voted in. This would’ve been Bryant’s first year of eligibility after retiring in 2016, and the chairman of hall of fame, Jerry Colangelo, announced on Monday that they will inducted Kobe posthumously.
“Ironically, I have a meeting in Dallas on Wednesday with the committee to go through the candidates,” Colangelo said on NBA TV. “Obviously, the result of whatever names come out of that, he was going to be a first-ballot guy. There’s no doubt in my mind. He’s going to be honored. He’s going in the Hall of Fame.”
The other inductees will be announced in February, and the ceremony for the hall is in April. Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are expected to join Bryant in this year’s class.
In a 2017 interview with Complex, Bryant revealed who he would like to actually induct him into the hall of fame.
“In terms of who might present, for me, it’s two people: Michael Jordan or [former Lakers coach] Phil Jackson,” Bryant said “They’ve been the greatest mentors, not only in my career as an athlete, but also as a person. And what I might say is just a lot of thank-yous. ‘Cause I’ve had a lotta help along the way. A lotta lotta help.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement on behalf of the league on Sunday:
“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals.”
But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organization and the entire sports world.”