When Kobe Bryant retired after the 2015-16 NBA season with the Los Angeles Lakers, his next step was the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
As Bryant was finally able to spend more time with his family, he was building Kobe Inc. and Granity Studios when the announcement came on Dec. 19.
Along with Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, Bryant officially headlined the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2020 candidates.
Amid the tragedy, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo will honor Bryant, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Kobe Bryant will be a first-ballot enshrinement into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2020.
"Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett," HOF chairman Jerry Colangelo says. "Kobe will be honored the way he should be."
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 27, 2020
Even before Bryant’s retirement and death, he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer:
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles #Lakers:
5X NBA champion,
2X NBA Finals MVP,
1X NBA MVP,
18X NBA All-Star,
4X NBA All-Star Game MVP,
11X All-NBA First Team,
9X NBA All-Defensive First Team,
2X NBA scoring champion,
1X NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion,
1X Oscars winner,
& 1X Emmy winner. pic.twitter.com/dfkzuFVUPY
— Dan Duangdao (@DanDuangdao) November 18, 2019
For basketball fans who grew up watching Bryant, they were looking forward to his Hall of Fame speech. While there was so much anticipation, Bryant was a historian of the game and supported the next generation of players.
In Bryant’s last posts on social media, he congratulated LeBron James for passing him for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list against his hometown Philadelphia 76ers. Although the 41-year-old will be remembered for his competitiveness, his focus was to move the game of basketball forward.
As basketball fans mourn the loss of Bryant, Gianna Bryant, and seven other passengers, the ‘Mamba Mentality’ will continue to live on forever.