Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Michael Jordan and renowned coach Greg Popovich were on hand, with the latter to witness Duncan’s induction.
Jordan was there to lend a hand to Kobe’s wife Vanessa Bryant as they walked down from the stage, with the crowd shouting “Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!”
Kobe Bryant is in the Hall now, along with contemporaries Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, headliners of a group of nine who got their delayed and long-awaited enshrinement on Saturday night, more than a year after being announced as the Hall’s Class of 2020.
“Right now, I’m sure he’s laughing in heaven, because I’m about to praise him in public,” Vanessa Bryant said.
And she did, her purple dress matching the traditional Los Angeles Lakers color, capping the night by giving the speech that her husband was not here to deliver.
“There will never be anyone like Kobe,” Vanessa Bryant said. “Kobe was one of a kind. He was special. He was humble — off the court — but bigger than life.”
Bryant, Duncan and Garnett were joined in the class by three-time NCAA champion coach Kim Mulkey, two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich, four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings, three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton, 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens and longtime FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann.
“I appreciate you,” Garnett said to Duncan from the stage. “It’s an honor to go into the hall with you, bro. You and Kob.”
Duncan stayed true to who he is: Modest and humble, on a day where his Spurs coach, Gregg Popovich, missed a game to see his enshrinement.
“This is the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life,” Duncan said as he began his speech. “Been through finals, Game 7’s, this is officially the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve been pacing in my room all day, so let’s see what we get.”
As usual, he delivered in the clutch.
And the other speeches didn’t disappoint.
The Hall of Fame has a 10-minute countdown clock on the prompter that speakers used to assist with their remarks. Catchings blew past with ease, going several minutes past in an emotional address that covered her many challenges.
“Basketball chose me, an awkward, lanky, introverted tomboy, born with a hearing disability, a speech impediment, and a will to overcome obstacles, dream big and to change the world,” Catchings said.
Mulkey talked about her roots, coming from a small town in Louisiana and getting to the Hall of Fame — marveling that she was presented for induction by Jordan, who held the same role for Bryant.