Kobe Bryant will likely be posthumously inducted into the Naismith Basketball of Fame, according to chairman Jerry Colangelo.
The Athletic senior NBA insider Shams Charania tweeted on Monday, January 27, that Bryant — who died at the age of 41 one day earlier — will be a “first-ballot enshrinement” into the Hall of Fame’s 2020 class.
“Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett,” Colangelo said, per the tweet. “Kobe will be honored the way he should be.”
In a follow-up tweet, Charania explained that the NBA legend “will be part of standard Hall of Fame screening process on Wednesday, with finalists in February at All-Star break and formal inductees at the Final 4 in April.”
Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
In the wake of Bryant’s death, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement honoring the late Los Angeles Lakers star. “For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning,” Silver wrote. “He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary … 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.”
During his two-decade career with the Lakers, Bryant was a five-time NBA champion, an 18-time NBA All-Star, a two-time NBA Finals MVP and the NBA’s Most Valuable Player of 2008. He also earned two Olympic gold medals, representing the United States at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 games in London.
Arn Tellem, Bryant’s former agent, also eulogized the athlete. “He had a fearsome intellectual curiosity and his enthusiasm was contagious,” he said, per the Los Angles Times. “The glint in his eyes wasn’t just joy: It was sparks from a fire that couldn’t be tamped down. To him, anything less than the best was failure. … He deeply loved his wife Vanessa and the family they created, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka and Capri. He cherished his daughters and they were always his top priority. Losing Gianna makes this even more tragic. Kobe’s death is especially wrenching knowing what he was capable of, and what he might have accomplished in his post-NBA life.”