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Kobe Bryant will be posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the organization announced on Saturday (April 4). The late NBA legend joins the 2020 class of nine inductees which include NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan, 15-time NBA All-Star and nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team Kevin Garnett, and 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist, Tamika Catchings.
“The Class of 2020 is undoubtedly one of the most historic of all time and the talent and social influence of these nine honorees is beyond measure,” John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “In 2020, the basketball community has suffered the unimaginable loss of iconic figures Commissioner David Stern and Kobe Bryant, as well as the game itself due to COVID-19.
“We have also banded together like never before in appreciation of the game and those who have made it the uniting force it is today. Today we thank the Class of 2020 for all they have done for the game of basketball and we look forward to celebrating them at Enshrinement in August.”
The 2020 class will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame on Aug. 29 in Springfield, Mass. The date falls six days after what would have been Bryant’s 42nd birthday. The retired Lakers star died in a helicopter crash in January alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, and seven others.
Kobe’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, called the Hall of Fame election the “peak of his NBA career” during a FaceTime call with ESPN. “It’s an incredible accomplishment and honor, and we’re extremely proud of him. Every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to be here.
“Obviously we wish that he was here with us to celebrate,” Vanessa continued. “We’re incredibly proud of him. And there’s some solace in know that he was probably going to be apart of the 2020 Hall of Fame class.”
"We're incredibly proud of him."
Vanessa and Natalia Bryant joined Rece Davis after Kobe's induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. pic.twitter.com/HX31pyvgPe
— ESPN (@espn) April 4, 2020
Ice Cube and the Big 3 League have come up with a plan to continue entertaining basketball fans quarantined due to the current global pandemic. Cube and the league are partnering with the producers of Big Brother for a “quarantined reality hoops tournament” kicking off in early May, the rapper and entrepreneur announced on Twitter last Thursday (March 27).
Continuing to change the game every day. @thebig3 is partnering with the producers of Big Brother to launch a quarantined reality hoops tournament in early May. pic.twitter.com/On3O8on4lH
— Ice Cube (@icecube) March 27, 2020
According to Yahoo! Sports, Cube and Big 3 co-founder, Jeff Kwatinetz, have been in talks with multiple networks to broadcast the tournament. The three-on-three tournament will reportedly include 16 to 22 players, all of whom have tested negative for coronavirus, and will be quarantined in Los Angles home, courtesy of the Big3 League. Cameras will capture the games and the players’ daily lives. The production crew will be housed at an offsite location.
Players will be eliminated after netting three losses. The top three remaining players will win millions in cash and prizes.
Kwatinetz said that the goal is to provide fans with a “safe, entertaining brand of basketball” to help get through the pandemic.
“Cube and I have been in the entertainment business for 30 years. This is our job,” Kwatinetz explained. “People want to be entertained with all we’re going through and enjoy our sports. We think this will help.”
Basketball fans have been going through withdrawals since the NBA has suspended its season because of the coronavirus, but they'll get the next best thing. ESPN has announced that its Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance would be released in April instead of June.
The Last Dance, a ten-part series, will now begin on April 19. It tells the story of Jordan and the Bulls' last championship season in 1997-1998, and includes never-before-seen footage from an NBA Entertainment crew that followed them around that year. ESPN also spoke to more than 100 people close to the team.
"As society navigates this time without live sports, viewers are still looking to the sports world to escape and enjoy a collective experience," ESPN said in a statement. "We've heard the calls from fans asking us to move up the release date for this series, and we're happy to announce that we've been able to accelerate the production schedule to do just that. This project celebrates one of the greatest players and dynasties ever, and we hope it can serve as a unifying entertainment experience to fill the role that sports often play in our lives, telling a story that will captivate everyone, not just sports fans."
The NBA suspended its season after two-time defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert, of the Utah Jazz, tested positive for the coronavirus. Had the season not been suspended, fans would be preparing for the NBA's playoff race. Other sports leagues followed suit after the NBA's decision, and other athletes, including Gobert's teammate Donovan Mitchell and Brooklyn Nets Star Kevin Durant, have also tested positive. Mitchell and Gobert have since been cleared of the virus.