Kobe Bryant will be posthumously inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on the first ballot later this year, chairman Jerry Colangelo said Monday.
"Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett," Colangelo told Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. "Kobe will be honored the way he should be."
Charania also noted Bryant would "be part of standard Hall of Fame screening process on Wednesday, with finalists in February at All-Star break and formal inductees at the Final 4 in April." However, Jeff Vaughn of KCAL9 Los Angeles later reported the "Hall of Fame committee will set aside the traditional election process and have selected [Bryant] as a first-ballot Hall of Famer posthumously."
Bryant was one of nine people who died in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, California. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, also died in the crash.
Bryant was 41.
An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.
It was a virtual certainty Bryant would have been inducted into the Hall of Fame by traditional voting. He was, by all accounts, one of the best players in NBA history. His basketball career ended with five championships, 18 All-Star appearances and 15 selections to an All-NBA team. Every major scoring record in the Lakers' record book belongs to Bryant, and he became the first player in NBA history to have two jersey numbers retired by the same franchise.
Bryant finished his career as the NBA's third-leading scorer, a mark that LeBron James passed one day before his death. His final social media post congratulated James for "continuing to move the game forward."
Perhaps the most maddeningly competitive player to set foot on an NBA floor, Bryant carried that relentless drive into a post-basketball life that was tragically cut short. He won an Oscar for his short film Dear Basketball in 2018, wrote a bestselling book and produced numerous other forms or programming aimed at children.
While his Hall of Fame induction will strictly be for his innumerable accomplishments on the basketball floor, it will also be a chance for the basketball world to celebrate his life. Bryant was the player you hated as a fan of an opposing team and loved fiercely if your heart bled purple and gold—which was exactly the way he wanted it.