The list of finalists to be inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the 2020 class has been announced. This year's class will be one of the strongest ever, with the late Kobe Bryant set to be joined by San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan and Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics great Kevin Garnett.
The three are among eight finalists to make the Hall in August. The class will be announced during the Final Four weekend in Atlanta in early April. Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett are joined by Tamika Catchings, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton, and Rudy Tomjanovich.
Today's announcement also featured the 2020 John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, which goes to Dr. Tim Nugent, founder of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. The Curt Gowdy Award, which goes to influential members of the basketball media, goes to Mike Breen, Jim Gray, Mike Wilbon, and TNT's Inside the NBA.
To make it into the Hall of Fame, these nominees must now receive 18 of 24 votes from the appropriate Honors Committee. Two such committees exist: North American and Women's. The groups "consist of Hall of Famers, basketball executives and administrators, members of the media, and other experts in the game of basketball." After their deliberations, a Hall of Fame class is decided.
Kobe Bryant will be the headliner of this group, after his tragic death at just 41 years old last month. The Los Angeles Lakers legend spent his entire 20 year career with the franchise, winning five NBA Titles. He was NBA Finals MVP twice, the NBA's MVP in 2008, an All-Star 18 times, and a First Team All-NBA layer 11 times.
While they're very different players and personalities, Bryant and Tim Duncan leave similar basketball legacies. He spent his 19-year career with the San Antonio Spurs, winning five titles, three of which he won the MVP Award for. He was the league's MVP twice, a 15-time All-Star, and a 10-time First Team All-NBA player.
Kevin Garnett is one of the most fearsome competitors in NBA history, and the greatest player in Minnesota Timberwolves history. He won the league's MVP Award with the team in 2004, but his career really took off when he was traded for the Boston Celtics in 2007. There, he captured the 2008 NBA Title. He was a 15-time All-Star and four-time First Team All-NBA player.
Tamika Catchings is one of the greatest players in WNBA history. After a college career at Tennessee under the legendary Pat Summitt. She went on to play for the Indiana Fever from 2002-2016, along with a number of international clubs. In 2012, she won a WNBA Title, and the Finals MVP, a year after winning the league's MVP Award. She made 10 WNBA All-Star Games.
Kim Mulkey is the head coach of Baylor women's basketball, where she's won three NCAA Tournaments, 10 Big 12 regular season titles, and 10 Big 12 Tournaments. As a player at Louisiana Tech, she won the 1982 NCAA Tournament, making the All-America team. She was also a member of Team USA in 1984, which took home gold.
Barbara Stevens has been the head coach at Bentley University since 1986. She captured the Division II National Championship in 2014, and is a five-time winner of the WBCA DII National Coach of the Year Award.
Oklahoma State legend Eddie Sutton led the program from 1990-06, after stints as head coach at Creighton, Arkansas, and Kentucky. He finished with an 806-326 all-time college record. As college head coach, he made three Final Fours, won nine regular season conference titles between the SWC, SEC, Big Eight, and Big 12, and won seven conference tournaments between those four leagues. He captured national coach of the year awards in 1978 and 1986, and is a member of the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
Rudy Tomjanovich was the longtime head coach of the Houston Rockets, leading the team from 1992-03 before a stint with the Lakers. He won back-to-back titles in 1994 and 95. As a player, he was a five-time NCA All-Star, and an All-American college player at Michigan.