Welcome to basketball immortality.
Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Tamika Catchings, Rudy Tomjanovich, Kim Mulkey, Eddie Sutton, Barbara Stevens, Patrick Baumann and of course Kobe Bryant don’t have to wait for it anymore.
Although their certified careers had already decked their place in the Hall long ago.
That’s how much fame they have.
Springfield’s most famous family outside ‘The Simpsons’ just added more members for its previously postponed Class of 2000. With the restrictions corona put on the calendar expect even more to take their place and walk down the aisle of the Hall once this September ends.
“I appreciate you,” Kevin Garnett said to court contemporary Tim Duncan during his speech. “It’s an honor to go into the hall with you, bro. You and Kob.” Can you believe it? Two revolutionary big-men in that post era of paint play both in their prime…at the same time. The former rivals who once proved to be testy All-star teammates, just showed it was all in the competitive nature of true warriors as they stood seven foot side, by seven foot side.
All for one of the games greatest classes like the ’96 draft a certain member was taken in. Outside of the top ten if you can believe it? But then again Michael Jordan himself was taken third (?!) in ’84.
When is Sam Bowie getting inducted into the Hall?
Garnett garnered career acclaim as one of the most passionate performers on the hardwood stage. He was certainly my favorite player of my generation not wearing 24…or 8. Even if he was a Celtic. Collecting championships with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce (who really is about to have better luck next year) before concluding his career where it all started in the one place he regrets not getting a ring…Minnesota.
But he’s about to help rebuild Minneapolis in George Floyd’s name.
Punching his big ticket. On this speech alone we can’t wait to read his encyclopedic autobiography ‘KG: A to Z’.
“This is the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life,” the usual stoic Tim Duncan said in his speech. “Been through finals, Game 7’s, this is officially the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve been pacing in my room all day, so let’s see what we get,” the humble assassin added.
What we got was a beautiful, heartfelt speech from the humble King and the games greatest Power Forward. One San Antonio Spurs legendary Coach Gregg Popovich won’t regret missing a game for.
Wrapping it up like a ‘Chappelle Show’ skit, there was a ten minute clock counting down the new Hall of Famers’ speeches, before The Academy like strings came into play. Gone, sadly are the days of Shaq sized speeches and half-hour Iverson influences longer than his “practice” press conference (let’s talk about how that really wasn’t a rant), in this COVID age of keeping mask-less words to a social distance minimum.
This time though, this was one clock that none of these ballers wanted to beat.
Just like WNBA icon and four time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings. As important to the W’s quarter century anniversary like counting every one of those 25 years.
“Basketball chose me, an awkward, lanky, introverted tomboy, born with a hearing disability, a speech impediment, and a will to overcome obstacles, dream big and to change the world.”
Don’t count anybody out!
“My life turned out better than my wildest dreams,” an overcome with emotion, Rudy Tomjanovich told the crowd. He carved, “I love basketball” into the headboard of his bed as a boy and with dreams of one day being in the NBA, touched it before he went to sleep every night. Look where he is now. The two-time coaching champ giving it up for a fellow Famer and member of the purple and gold who he once had to break up a fight with involving Brian Grant, as per the big man’s new book ‘Rebound’. Not to mention another Laker and Houston Rocket ‘Big Shot’ who Rudy T believes deserves his place here, like the home he created in the clutch. The one and only Robert Horry.
“He belongs here,” Rudy said as he pointed to the podium.
T had the most entertaining speech. Talking about Sam Cassell’s cajones, how good a kisser Mario Elie is (especially on the left cheek) and the time he saw Vince Carter jump over the Eiffel Tower.
Three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton, FIBA secretary general, Patrick Baumann who gave us the 3×3 (which is now an Olympic sport) and the winner of 1,000 games Barbara Stevens also took their place alongside three-time NCAA champ Kim Mulkey. Who was honored to be presented by the one and only Michael Jordan. “The last time we stood this close we were walking out of the ’84 Olympics and we were a hell of a lot younger lookin’ and probably a lot skinnier.”
We feel you Kim.
Inside The NBA, media members like that crew were also honored. Including print journalist legend Michael Wilborn, who had the inside scoop on the golden era of ‘The Last Dance’ and legendary interviewer Jim Gray. The Howard Cossell of the NBA. Who could forget the voice of the Knicks too? Here’s to Mike Breen. “BANG!”
Grammy winner Ne-Yo performed his inspired ‘Incredible’ single during a movie montage to all the Hall of Famers lost since the last class of 2019. Including commissioner David Stern and posthumous inductees including Eddie Sutton, Patrick Baumann and of course the one whose name everybody chanted. Hand-in-hand as Michael Jordan led and introduced his wife in a purple dress to her stage. As beautiful a moment as his daughter Natalia wearing his HOF blazer. Gianna also being paid tribute to like the clothing line for the Mambacita that she is.
“KOBE! KOBE! KOBE!”
Saving the late, great greatest for last, Vanessa Bryant delivered a beautiful speech as heartfelt as their love with not a dry eye in the house.
“Right now, I’m sure he’s laughing in heaven, because I’m about to praise him in public,” she began as she paid tribute to more than the games greatest, but the man who loved her with all his soul.
“Kobe was one of a kind. He was special. He was humble — off the court — but bigger than life,” Vanessa added on the rolled tube sock kid to Laker lifer. One who before his tragic death to start the worst year in 2020 was building a budding, Oscar winning movie and storytelling career by the book. Right after saying goodbye to the game he owned like his opponents with his ‘Dear Basketball’ poetic letter.
Vanessa’s mentality was a figure of iron strength and grace. A familiar will. When talking about how Kobe played through it all (torn Achilles and shoulders) she recalled him asking, “what about the fans that saved up to watch me play just once?” That’s something similar to what Springsteen said in his sixties about giving his all to 3 hour sets in concert. When I was living in Canada back in 2006, aged 21, I went all the way from Toronto to LA. Just to see Kobe play. It was worth every dollar and every mile. Thank you Bean.
It’s only right Kobe’s muse had the last word on the icon who some think should be the new NBA logo.
““There will never be anyone like Kobe.”
You’re damn right.
The standing room in this walk of fame is only going to get bigger with Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Tim Hardaway Sr., Chris Webber, Marques Johnson, Michael Cooper, Jay Wright, Rick Adelman, Leta Andrews, Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson, Marianne Stanley and Bill Russell as a coach are among the finalists for the next class coming this fall.
Time to deck the Halls again.