On Friday Vanessa Bryant got a private tour to see some of the newly remodeled Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, viewing the exhibit that will honor the life and legacy of her late husband before the rest of the world gets a chance to see it.
By the Hall’s description, it’s an exhibit like none other. Seems fitting for a special Hall of Fame enshrinement class.
Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett officially became members of the Basketball Hall of Fame Saturday night, the headline event of the three-day celebration of the game.
KG and Tim Duncan came up in the league together. They both enter the HOF this weekend 🐐 pic.twitter.com/J5xK1scTNL
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 11, 2021
They were rivals for the better part of two decades, three of the faces of the league throughout a critical period of growth for the league. Amongst that there is some symmetry in how they all entered the Hall together.
“You can go through the list of NBA greats, “ Garnett said Friday. “I couldn’t pick two better players — not just that, but two better people, to go in the Hall with. Both of these are class acts and unbelievable players. I’m very privileged if I’m being honest. Ever since I stepped into the league it’s been like a big-ass dream and this is no different from it. “I’m honored.”
Duncan, who battled Kobe for best player of the generation, as they both finished with 5 NBA titles, spoke on the deceased icon.
Tim Duncan on fellow HOF inductee Kobe Bryant: "He was a fierce competitor and always demanding more of his team and his teammates than probably was possible, but he wanted to win that much. He wanted it that much." pic.twitter.com/SZO2LF5oTJ
— ESPN (@espn) May 14, 2021
The celebration kicked off on Friday at the Mohegan Sun Casino. Enshrinement weekend was moved there in part because that venue was more spacious, to allow social distancing. And it peaked Saturday evening with the actual inductions.
On Sunday, about an hour away in Springfield, Massachusetts, the remodeled Hall of Fame will be formally unveiled and the 2021 class that will be enshrined there this September will be announced.
“It’s fitting that this class, the 2020 class, really breaks open the new Hall of Fame.” Hall chairman Jerry Colangelo said. There’s been an incredible amount no money put into bringing it to the next century if you will. The Hall of Fame was tired, a lot of static kind of things to look at. But technically ha changed dramatically.”
A group of nine were honored on Saturday night: Duncan, Garnett and Bryant are the NBA players inducted.
Coaches, Barbara Stevens, winner of more than 1,000 games and two-time NBA champion Rudy Tomjanovich, three-time NCAA champion coach Kim Mulkey and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton were also enshrined, along with four-time women’s Olympic gold medalist and WNBA legend Tamika Catchings. Longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann was honored with a HOF induction as well.
Some of those being honored, spoke on Friday, of their very modest beginnings and how reflecting on those days made the emotions of this weekend reach an emotional
Stevens said she hit the jackpot when she landed her first coaching job at Clark University for $400 in 1976. Tomjanovich said he didn’t feel ready when he was offered the Houston Rockets job, but having Hakeem Olajuwon quickly changed those thoughts… haha.
Kim Mulkey talked about her days as a pigtailed girl playing Pony League baseball with the boys in the little Louisiana town where she grew up and how her mother told her it was “Ok to dress feminine but be tough as nails.”
— NBA (@NBA) May 15, 2021
Garnett still insists he was a major risk when the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted him out of high school. Duncan grew up as a swimmer in the Virgin Islands, not a basketball player. Yet here they are now Basketball Hall of Fame inductees.
“On behalf of our family, we appreciate the continuous love and support from fans all over the world,” Vanessa Bryant said in a statement distributed through the Hall of Fame. She spoke on behalf of her husband Saturday night at the Enshrinement, with Michael Jordan doing the honors of presenting Bryant to the Hall.
Bryant was one of three members of the class who were enshrined posthumously, along with Brennan and the great college coach Eddie Sutton.
“We were excited that he was alive to hear the news,” Sean Sutton said of his father who passed away about six weeks after the 2020 class was announced. “I know it meant a great deal to him.”
As for the late great Kobe Bryant, I’m pretty sure he would’ve blessed us with a great speech and used some of those words that only he could use, and he may have even given us some of that speech in one of the five languages he spoke fluently.
Nobody was like Kobe, but everyone inducted on Saturday night are inseparable members of an exclusive fraternity.