The Basketball Hall of Fame named NBA legend Kobe Bryant as a finalist for the honor less than three weeks after his death.
The Hall of Fame released an unusually short list of names on Friday of athletes nominated to receive the honor of being named an all-time elite player. Former NBA stars Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett joined Bryant on the list, according to the Associated Press. Five others, including Tamika Catchings, a 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist, are also finalists.
The list of Hall of Fame nominees usually includes 13 male and female professional players. The shortened list made this year was done intentionally and before Bryant died in a helicopter crash in California on Jan. 26.
Bryant, 41, was traveling with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in his private helicopter when it crashed near Calabasas, killing everyone on board. Bryant and his daughter’s memorial service is scheduled for Feb. 24 in the Staples Center.
“We did it because of the enormity, even before Kobe’s death, that we think Kobe and Duncan and Garnett bring to it,” Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “We’ve never had a class that strong at the top, and then, of course, with Kobe’s death, it added more focus.”
The Hall of Fame’s 2020 class will be announced on April 4 at college basketball’s Final Four in Atlanta, and the induction ceremony is scheduled to take place in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Aug. 29.
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