Magic Johnson: 'It Breaks My Heart' Kobe Bryant Won't Be at HOF Induction

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistApril 4, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 18: Magic Johnson addresses the crowd during Kobe Bryant's jersey retirement ceremony on December 18, 2017 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers icon Magic Johnson shared a somber message of congratulations to Kobe Bryant for making it into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday. 

Appearing on ESPN after the official announcement of Bryant's enshrinement, Johnson said "it breaks my heart" that Bryant won't be at the ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts to receive the honor in person.

Bryant, who was killed alongside eight others in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously. 

The 2020 class is among the most historic groups ever inducted. Bryant leads the nine-person group that includes Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, WNBA icon Tamika Catchings, legendary college coach Eddie Sutton, long-time NBA player and former Houston Rockets head coach Rudy Tomjanovich, Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey, Division II coaching icon Barbara Stevens and former FIBA executive Patrick Baumann.

Johnson retired from playing after the 1995-96 season. Bryant was drafted No. 13 overall by the Charlotte Hornets following that season before having his rights traded to the Lakers in June 1996. He spent his entire career in Los Angeles, winning five championships in 20 seasons. 

In the wake of Bryant's death, a number of NBA players who wore No. 8 or 24 switched their number as a way to informally retire the 18-time All-Star's numbers throughout the league.