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The Naismith Hall of Fame Class of 2020

Over the past weekend the Naismith Hall of Fame announced their newest members and it may just be one of the best classes the Hall of Fame has ever seen. The inductees include Kobe Bryant, Tamika Catchings, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, and Patrick Baumann.

These past couple of months have been extremely trying and the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi didn’t make things any easier. The longtime Laker passed away on January 26 in a helicopter crash along with his daughter and seven other beautiful souls. But his announcement into the Hall of Fame was just the news everyone needed. Bryant recently won an Academy Award for his animated film Dear Basketball and one of the few basketball players to do so. When he was drafted in 1996, he was the youngest player in NBA history at 18 years old, 2 months and 11 days. He entered the league straight outta high school and took the league by storm. Over his 20 year career; he became five time NBA champion (2000,2001,2002,2009,2010), NBA MVP (2008), 18x NBA All-Star, 11x All NBA First Team and 2x Olympic Gold Medalist. Bryant is also 4th on the NBA All-Time NBA scoring list. On Saturday, Vanessa Bryant appeared on ESPN with her eldest daughter Natlia. “It’s an incredible accomplishment and honor. And we’re extremely proud of him. Obviously, we wish that he was here with us to celebrate. Every accomplishment he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to be here. So we’re incredibly proud of him. And there’s some solace knowing that he was probably going to be apart of the 2020 Hall of Fame class.” Mrs. Bryant also called the induction “the peak of {Bryant’s} NBA career.”

Next on the induction list was the energizing Kevin Garnett, who retired in 2016. Garnett played 21 seasons in the NBA for three different teams; the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets. In 2008, the greatest NBA rivals had finally made its way back to the Finals, the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics. Without Garnett, the Celtics would not have won that ring. His energy and defensive presence was a huge difference in the series. He is a 9x All NBA Defensive Team member. While he was with the Timberwolves he also won the NBA MVP in 2004.In 1997, he pulled a six year $126 million contract and has earned more money in his career than ANY other player in NBA history. When he retired,he made $326 million in his career, also the most in NBA history to date. Garnett was also a member of the 2000 Olympic Gold Medal team, 4x All NBA 1st Team, and a 15x NBA All-Star. He was the 5th pick in the 1997 NBA draft.

One of the biggest big men to grace the game, the big Fundamental, longtime San Antonio Spur, Tim Duncan. Representing the US Virgin Islands, Duncan became one of the most dominant big men alongside Hall of Fame teammate David Robinson. He is a 5x NBA champion (1999,2003,2005,2007,2014) and 3x NBA Finals MVP (1999,2003 and 2005). Duncan also is a 2x NBA MVP (2002 and 2003). Over his 19 year career, he was a 15x NBA All-Star, 10x All NBA 1st Team, 8x All NBA Defensive 1st team, NBA Rookie of the Year and was the first pick in the 1997 NBA draft. Now, he is an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs alongside his coach Greg Popovich.

WNBA player Tamika Catchings was the Indiana Fever’s 3rd pick in the 2001 WNBA draft. Catchings had an impressive professional career. She is a 4x Olympic Gold Medalist (2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016), led the Fever to 12 consecutive WNBA playoff appearances including a championship in 2012, 10x All Star, the 2002 WNBA Rookie of the Year, 5x Defensive Player of the Year, league MVP in 2011 and the finals MVP 2012. The New Jersey native is also the WNBA leader in rebounds (3,326) and is known for being one of the most relentless defensive players ever to have the ball in their hands. During her collegiate career with Tennessee Lady Vols under the legendary Pat Summitt she totaled 2,113 career points. While living in Italy as a child when her father was playing professional basketball, she became good friends with Hall of Fame classmate Kobe Bryant. They grew to have an amazing bond as their fathers were teammates and both ironically wore the number 24 in their professional careers.

Next up on the list, is the head coach of Baylor's women's basketball team, Kim Mulkey. She is the first person in NCAA women’s basketball history to win a National Championship as a player, assistant coach, and a head coach. As a player at Louisiana Tech, she had a pretty successful career. She was an All-American point guard, won two National championships; the AIAW title in 1981 and inaugural NCAA title in 1982.The award winning point guard was a member of the 1983 Gold Medal team at the Pan American games in Caracas, Venezuela. She averaged 12.4 points per game. In 1984, was the inaugural winner of the women’s version of the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, given to the nation’s top college senior under 5’6. A year later she became an assistant at her alma mater and was promoted to associate head coach under Leon Barmore. Throughout her 15 year career with the Lady Techsters, they had a 430-68 record and advanced to seven Final Fours. In 1988 the Lady Techsters won the NCAA championship. Mulkey left Louisiana Tech after her extensive career when the program refused to pay her more money. In 2000, she took over the head coaching job for Baylor University. The Lady Bears who finished the 1999-2000 season 7-20. In her first season, she led the team to their first NCAA tournament bid in the program's history. In her tenure with the Bears have played in the post season every year, have won 20 games every year and only once has the team lost more than 10 games. Five years after signing on, the Bears won their first NCAA title. Two years later she signed a 10 year extension to remain as Baylor’s head coach. In 2012, she made NCAA history by leading her team to a perfect season (40-0) the most wins in college basketball history, men or women. In that same year she won another National Championship with her main star Brittany Griener. With all of her accolades, the head coach also is known for “bold sense of style and even wore a snakeskin suit in a widely broadcast Connecticut game.

Barbara Stevens is leading the way for NCAA Division II coaches. She is the fourth winningest coach in NCAA history. The Massachuettes native is a 5x Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division II National Coach of the Year. She recently finished her 34th season as Bentley University and her 43rd as a college coach. Over her extensive coaching career she has held a record of 1058-291 and Bentley record stands at a 901-200. In 2013-2014, the team finished with a 35-0 season with a comeback win over West Texas A&M. In the final minutes, her team was down 73-65. She has won at least 20 games in 30 of 34 seasons and 19 games three other times. Bentley’s tenure includes an .818 winning percentages, 31 NCAA tournament berths, 14 NCAA regional championships, 10 appearances in the national semi-finals, 20 Northeast-10 regular season championships and 17 Northeast-10 tournament titles.

Legendary Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton is finally being enshrined. Sutton was the head coach from 1990-2006. He led OSU to 2 Final Four appearances, 3 regular season conference titles and 3 conference tournament championships. In his tenure, he had 368 wins which is the second most in program history behind Henry Iba (Head coach from 1934 to 1970). He is 1 of 10 Division I coaches with 800 or more career wins. He also led Creighton, Arkansas and Ketucky to the NCAA tournament. Kentucky reached the Elite Eight and Arkansas to the Final Four. Probably one of the reasons he struggled to get to the Hall of Fame was because of multiple scandals and alcoholism. In 1989 he resigned from Kentucky after the-assistant Dwuane Casey had been accused of sending money to top recruit Chris Mills and an entrance exam score for Eric Manuel was questioned. Kentucky was placed on probation for three years and banned from the postseason for two years. A drunk driving incident led to his resignation with OSU in 2006. Post accident, he became an advocate for people suffering from alcoholism and other addictions. Now in his mid 80s, he has severe health issues and has trouble speaking.

After 13 years of being put on the back burner former Houston Rockets head coach Rudy Tomjanovich is finally being enshrined. He is the only person in NBA history to score 10,000 points as a player and win 500 games as a coach. As a player he was a 5x All-Star. Tomjanovich is one of nine coaches to win back to back championships along with fellow Hall of Fame coaches Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, Pat Riley, Chuck Daley and Bill Russell; 1 of 14 coaches to win two or more titles and 1 of 3 coaches to win a gold medal and an NBA championship along with Hall of Famers Chuck Daley and Lenny Wilkens. In 2000, he led the Olympic team to a gold medal in Sydney, Australia and in 1998 USA FIBA team to a bronze medal in the World Cup when there were no NBA players on the roster due to labor issues. The Michigan native spent 34 years with the Rockets as a player, coach, and personnel consultant. He won championships in 1994 and 1995. During his championship run, he took the Houston team that was and still is the lowest seed in NBA playoff history to win a championship at the 6th seed. Throughout his career he has coached many Hall of Famers including Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Alonzo Mourning, Gary Payton, Charles Barkley, and Hakeem Olajuwon.

And last but certainly not least, the lone executive Patrick Baumann. Sadly, he passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack in October 2018 while attending the youth Olympic Games in Argentina.The executive is best known for his association with FIBA and the IOC. He came from a substantial educational background with an MBA from the Business School of the University of Chicago, a Masters in Sports Administration Management (MEMOS) from the University of Lyon in France and a law degree from the University of Lausanne. Originally from Switzerland, he was the force and face of FIBA making radical changes to its governance structure, successfully building and moving its own HQ outside of Geneva as well launching 3x3, it’s urban discipline which became an important part of the basketball program at the Olympics. In 2002 was appointed as the thrid FIBA Secretary General and offically started his term of office a year later. Baumann also was the lead in creating and implementing FIBA’s New Competition System. He served for years for the International Olympic Committee. Under his leadership, he served as a member of its Evaluation Commissions for the Olympic Games 2008 and 2020, member of the Coordination Commission for the Olympic Games 2012, Chairman of the Evaluation Commission and Vice-Chairman of the Coordination for the Olympic Games 2024, appointed Chairman of the Coordination Commission for the Olympic Games 2028 as well as other members of other IOC commissions. In 2009, he was appointed to the International Advisory Board of the World Academy in Sport. Baumann is highly regarded for his work with International sports.

The enshrinement ceremony is slated to air on ESPN on August 20,2020 in Springfield, Massachuettes the birthplace of basketball. No word has been released if they are changing the date or how the layout will be due to coronavirus.

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