The eight finalists for the 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class have been announced, headlined by late Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
Bryant was among several high-profile first-time nominees for the 2020 class, along with Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.
Here is the full list of finalists:
- Kobe Bryant
- Tamika Catchings
- Tim Duncan
- Kevin Garnett
- Kim Mulkey
- Eddie Sutton
- Barbara Stevens
- Rudy Tomjanovich
Following Bryant's death in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo told NBA TV (h/t Sports Illustrated's Dan Gartland) even before the official voting took place that the Lakers legend would be posthumously inducted during this year's ceremony.
"Ironically, I have a meeting in Dallas on Wednesday with the committee to go through the candidates," Colangelo said. "Obviously, the result of whatever names come out of that, he was going to be a first-ballot guy. There's no doubt in my mind. He's going to be honored. He's going in the Hall of Fame."
Bryant spent his entire 20-year playing career with the Lakers from 1997-2016. His 18 All-Star selections rank second all-time, only behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19). He was named to the All-Defensive team 12 times, ranks fourth all-time in NBA history with 33,643 points, won five NBA titles and two NBA Finals MVP awards.
Like Bryant, Duncan spent his entire career with one franchise. The Big Fundamental played with the San Antonio Spurs from 1997-2016, winning five NBA titles and three NBA Finals MVPs. He was also a two-time NBA MVP, 15-time All-Star and All-Defensive team selection.
Garnett played 21 seasons for three different teams. His first stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves from 1995-2007 turned around a franchise that didn't have a winning record in seven seasons before his arrival.
The Big Ticket led the T-Wolves to eight straight postseason appearances from 1996-2004, including their first two playoff series wins during his MVP season in 2003-04. He's tied with Bryant, Gary Payton and Michael Jordan for most All-Defensive First Team selections (nine).
Garnett won his only NBA title with the Boston Celtics during the 2007-08 season when he was also named Defensive Player of the Year.
Sutton is a finalist for the seventh time after previously being inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. The legendary college coach led four different programs to the NCAA tournament, including Final Four appearances with Arkansas (1978) and Oklahoma State (1995, 2004).
Over the course of his 37 seasons as a head coach, Sutton went 806-329 and is tied with Bob Huggins for eighth all-time in Division I victories in men's college basketball.
Tamika Catchings was named one of the 20 greatest players in WNBA history during the league's 20th anniversary season in 2016. She played 15 seasons with the Indiana Fever from 2002-16, leading the franchise to a championship when she was named WNBA Finals MVP in 2012.
The University of Tennessee alum made the All-Star team 10 times, was named WNBA MVP in 2011 and is the league's all-time leader in regular-season steals (1,074), postseason rebounds (598) and postseason steals (152). She ranks second in playoff points (1,141). With the Lady Vols, Catchings won a national title in 1998 and was named the Naismith, AP, USBWA and WBCA Player of the Year in 2000.
Kim Mulkey is one of the most successful coaches in college basketball history. Already inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, she has spent her entire head-coaching career with Baylor since being hired prior to the 2000-01 season. An All-American point guard at Lousiana Tech prior to her coaching career, Mulkey is the first person to win national titles as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
Prior to her hiring, the Lady Bears never made an NCAA tournament appearance. She has led them to the Big Dance 18 times in the past 19 seasons, three national titles (2004-05, 2011-12, 2018-2019) and became the first men's or women's team in Division I to go 40-0 in a single season (2011-12).
Rudy Tomjanovich was one of the NBA's most successful head coaches during his 13 combined seasons with the Houston Rockets (1991-2003) and Lakers (2004-05). He went 527-416 overall, including a Rockets franchise record 503 wins.
Houston made seven straight playoff appearances from 1993-99 and won back-to-back NBA titles in 1993-94 and 1994-95 under Tomjanovich.
Now in her 41st season overall as a head coach, Barbara Stevens became the fifth women's coach to win 1,000 games when she accomplished the feat in January 2018. She had previous stops at Clark University (1977-83) and the University of Massachusetts (1983-86) before going to the Bentley Bears, her alma mater, in 1986.
Stevens led Bentley to a Division II national title in the 2013-14 season with a 35-0 record. She has been named WBCA Division II National Coach of the Year five different times (1991-92, 1998-99, 2000-01, 2012-13, 2013-14).
The 2020 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class will be announced on April 4 at 11 a.m. ET as part of men's Final Four weekend in Atlanta.