NBA fans will have to wait until next year to see Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant's Hall of Fame induction ceremony

By Jason Duaine Hahn
May 28, 2020 02:00 PM
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The 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony is the latest sporting event to be canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jerry Colangelo, the Hall of Fame's chairman, told ESPN on Wednesday that the ceremony — which was set to honor some of the most popular players in history, including Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan — is being pushed to 2021.

"We're definitely canceling," Colangelo, 80, told the outlet.

Large gatherings such as sporting events have been postponed since March to help slow the spread of coronavirus. With the United States seeing its 100,000th death attributed to the disease just this week, the Hall of Fame opted to play it safe by tentatively scheduling the ceremony months from its original August date.

"It's going to have to be the first quarter of next year," Colangelo continued. "We'll meet in a couple of weeks and look at the options of how and when and where."

Due to the uniqueness of the 2020 Hall of Fame class, Colangelo said its members will still get a ceremony separate from the 2021 class, though both will take place in the same year.

"We won't be combining them," he explained. "The Class of 2020 is a very special class and deserves its own celebration."

Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna
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Colangelo said the organization weighed other options, such as moving the ceremony from their 2,611-seat Symphony Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts, to the 8,319-seat MassMutual Center, which would allow them to better abide by social distancing recommendations. Ultimately, they decided to move the date forward.

Aside from the star-studded trio of former NBA players, the 2020 class also features inductees WNBA legend Tamika Catchings and coaches Rudy Tomjanovich, Eddie Sutton, Kim Mulkey and Barbara Stevens. Former secretary-general of FIBA, Patrick Baumann, is being enshrined as a contributor.

Bryant will be enshrined posthumously following his death in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 that also killed his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others.

“It’s an incredible accomplishment and honor and we’re extremely proud of him,” Bryant's wife, Vanessa Bryant, said in response to his induction in April. “Obviously we wish that he was here with us to celebrate but it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career.”

“Every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to be here. We’re incredibly proud of him,” she added, noting that she felt “some solace” in recent months “knowing that he was probably going to be a part of the 2020 Hall of Fame class.”

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“The Class of 2020 is undoubtedly one of the most historic of all time and the talent and social influence of these nine honorees is beyond measure,” John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, said last month of the inductees.

"In 2020, the basketball community has suffered the unimaginable loss of iconic figures Commissioner David Stern and Kobe Bryant, as well as the game itself due to COVID-19," Doleva continued. "We have also banded together like never before in appreciation of the game and those who have made it the uniting force it is today."