Los Angeles, April 5: Kobe Bryant has posthumously joined basketball's Hall of Fame, an honour his wife described on Saturday (April 4) as "the peak of his NBA career".
The Class of 2020 line-up was confirmed by the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, with all the finalists announced in February officially named as new inductees.
Bryant, the great Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard, died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna when they and seven others perished in a helicopter crash in California on January 26.
Bryant was 41. He was a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers and an 18-time All-Star, as well as an Olympic champion in 2008 and 2012.
Bryant's Hall of Fame nomination may have been first announced following his death, but his place was a matter of time, and he reportedly was already in line to be inducted this year.
Vanessa Bryant told ESPN: "It's an incredible accomplishment and honour and we're extremely proud of him.
"Obviously we wish he was here with us to celebrate, but it's definitely the peak of his NBA career and every accomplishment he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to being here.
"We're incredibly proud of him and there's some solace in knowing that he was probably going to be part of the 2020 Hall of Fame class."
He was one of the greatest competitors who stepped on the court and made sure his impact was felt on both sides of the ball. He is ranked 4th on the NBA’s career points list (33,643). We congratulate posthumously 5x NBA Champion Kobe Bryant. #20HoopClass pic.twitter.com/dw9WOlt1Gj— Basketball HOF (@Hoophall) April 4, 2020
The Hall of Fame ceremony will take place in Springfield, Massachusetts, on August 29.
Bryant's long-time fellow NBA superstars Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett also feature in the Class of 2020 - both were 15-time All-Stars in their playing careers - along with college coaching titan Eddie Sutton.
Rudy Tomjanovich, who led the Houston Rockets to two NBA titles, made the grade, together with 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medallist Tamika Catchings, trailblazing women's coaches Kim Mulkey and Barbara Stevens, and FIBA executive Patrick Baumann.
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame president John L. Doleva said: "The Class of 2020 is undoubtedly one of the most historic of all time and the talent and social influence of these nine honourees is beyond measure.
"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.
"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. Today we thank the Class of 2020 for all they have done for the game of basketball and we look forward to celebrating them at Enshrinement in August."