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Top Moments from Kobe, KG, Duncan and 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame Induction

Adam WellsMay 16, 2021

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

The much-anticipated class of 2020 was finally enshrined in a ceremony at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday. 

Boasting arguably the most star-studded enshrinees in history, the nine-person class was headlined by Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. They were joined by Tamika Catchings, Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens and Patrick Baumann.

All eyes were going to be on Bryant in this ceremony. The Los Angeles Lakers icon was voted into the Hall of Fame two months after his death in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020. 

NBA @NBA

#20HoopClass enshrinee, Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/j328vaUZiZ

Bryant's widow, Vanessa, took the stage to speak on his behalf. 

“There will never be anyone like Kobe," Vanessa said. "He was one of a kind. ... Kobe’s personal stats speak for themself. Kobe never took shortcuts when it came to basketball."

Basketball HOF @Hoophall

“Congratulations baby, all of your hard work and dedication paid off. You did it, you are in the Hall of Fame now.” - Vanessa Bryant #20HoopClass

Natalia Bryant, Kobe and Vanessa's oldest daughter, wore her father's Hall of Fame jacket and ring as part of the ceremony ahead of the enshrinement:

Dionne Grant @DionneGrant

Natalia Bryant wears her father Kobe Bryant’s Hall of Fame jacket and ring received in a ceremony ahead of this weekend’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony where Kobe will be posthumously honoured 🕊🤍 https://t.co/QrkjTcuezd pic.twitter.com/26T3Q7u40F

Garnett led off the ceremony by talking about playing against Bryant and Duncan during their legendary careers:

NBA @NBA

Kevin Garnett shares some kind words on fellow #20HoopClass enshrinees, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/iaczIfIdRd

Basketball HOF @Hoophall

Kevin Garnett is now officially an enshrined member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. #20HoopClass pic.twitter.com/Pzr95jlEEI

Known for his stoic demeanor on the basketball court, Duncan allowed himself to open up while delivering his speech. The San Antonio Spurs legend started by paying tribute to his parents:

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"My mom and my dad...a combined zero basketball knowledge. But they taught me more about the game than anyone else. " - Tim Duncan #20HoopClass pic.twitter.com/nU1hUNyG6O

After Garnett's tribute during his speech, Duncan returned the favor in honoring his fellow superstars and the teammates who helped him achieve so much success:

Basketball HOF @Hoophall

“You are at your best when you face the best. Thank you to the late Kobe Bryant and KG. You brought the best out of me.” - Tim Duncan #20HoopClass

NBA @NBA

Tim Duncan shows appreciation for the teammates he had the opportunity to share the floor with during his 19 years with the @spurs. #20HoopClass pic.twitter.com/PZ7UhmFQ3K

Before taking his final bow, Duncan thanked Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich for the impact he made on his life:

NBA @NBA

Tim Duncan thanks Gregg Popovich for the impact he had on his life, on and off the court. #20HoopClass pic.twitter.com/guhsWazCk9

Stevens is one of the greatest coaches in college basketball history. She retired in June at the age of 66 after a 43-year career that included a 34-season stint at Bentley in Division II. 

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#20HoopClass enshrinee, Barbara Stevens. pic.twitter.com/p0c88rXvDS

In 2018, Stevens became the fifth coach in college basketball history to reach the 1,000-win mark. She was named the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year award five times and the 2013-14 Division II national title. 

Basketball HOF @Hoophall

“My greatest honor was you called me coach. You excelled on the court, in the classroom and community. I share this incredible honor with all of you.” - Barbara Stevens #20HoopClass

Basketball HOF @Hoophall

“Thank you to the Hall of Fame for recognizing there are successful coaches at every level and acknowledging me as one of them.” - Barbara Stevens #20HoopClass

Sutton went 806-239 in 37 seasons as a head coach at five different schools. He became the first coach to lead four different programs to the NCAA tournament. The Oklahoma State alum went to the Final Four three different times, including twice at his alma mater in 1995 and 2004. 

One month after the Hall of Fame announcement last year, Sutton died at the age of 84 on May 23. His son, Sean Sutton, spoke on his father's behalf at the ceremony. 

“My dad loved every coaching stop from Tulsa Central High School to Oklahoma State. ... My dad’s life had hills and valleys. He did not run from it. He faced it head on," Sutton said. 

After one of the greatest careers of any player in WNBA history, Catchings joined the ranks of basketball's immortals on Saturday. The Indiana Fever legend was named an All-Star in 10 of her 15 seasons, was named MVP in 2011 and Finals MVP in 2012. 

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#20HoopClass enshrinee, Tamika Catchings. pic.twitter.com/3b3VckvybR

Catchings used her speech to share a story about how she found her way by playing basketball. 

Tim Reynolds @ByTimReynolds

Tamika Catchings ... wow.<br><br>"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."<br><br>One of the best quotes I've ever heard.

Basketball HOF @Hoophall

“They say it takes a village to raise a child, I say it takes a village to make dreams come true.” - Tamika Catchings #20HoopClass

Like Bryant and Sutton, Baumann was a posthumous inductee in this year's class. He died from a heart attack in 2018 at the age of 51. 

From 1994 until his death, Baumann worked as a FIBA executive. He was promoted to secretary general of the organization in 2003 and helped grow the sport's youth sector and helped launch 3x3 basketball.  

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#20HoopClass enshrinee, Patrick Baumann. pic.twitter.com/Rg7WZEFAqM

Tomjanovich's name was synonymous with Houston Rockets basketball for 34 seasons between his time as a player and coach. He was originally drafted by the franchise in 1971 when they were still based in San Diego. 

NBA @NBA

"As a young boy...I dreamed of one day getting to the NBA. <br><br>After today, I can say that my life turned out better than my wildest dreams."<br><br>- Rudy T. #20HoopClass pic.twitter.com/qGwPV6VYEa

After an 11-year playing career that included five All-Star appearances, Tomjanovich transitioned into the coaching ranks. He spent 10 seasons as an assistant under Bill Fitch and Don Chaney, the Michigan alum was named head coach in February 1992. 

Tomjanovich is the Rockets' all-time leader with 503 wins and 51 playoff victories. He led the franchise to back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995. 

Basketball HOF @Hoophall

“I owe so much to the game of basketball, it has given me a very rich life. It has given me great relationship and memories.” - Rudy Tomjanovich #20HoopClass

Mulkey, who is getting settled in her new job as LSU women's basketball head coach after 21 seasons at Baylor, has long been regarded as one of the best college coaches.  

Prior to Mulkey's hiring in 2000, the Bears never made the NCAA women's tournament. They made the tournament 18 times during her run, winning three national titles and becoming the first men's or women's team to finish a season 40-0 when they did it in 2011-12. 

Basketball HOF @Hoophall

“All of us being honored tonight understand we are only here because of one of life’s greatest honors. We get the credit when it should be shared with so many others.” - Kim Mulkey #20HoopClass

NBA @NBA

#20HoopClass enshrinee, Kim Mulkey. pic.twitter.com/6iHFqTMkB3

Basketball HOF @Hoophall

“No coach stands here without great players. They believed in me, embraced me and allowed me to push them beyond where they thought they could go.” - Kim Mulkey #20HoopClass

Bryant, Duncan and Garnett were three of the biggest stars of their generation. They combined to win 11 championships during their playing days. 

Catchings, Mulkey and Stevens have been instrumental in raising the profile of women's basketball around the world. 

Sutton and Tomjanovich have resumes that can match any coach from their eras. Baumann helped transform basketball into a global game that is played professionally in 213 countries around the world. 

Even though it took longer than expected to hold the ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 class finally got its much-deserved moment of glory. 

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