This coming August will be quite exciting at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as some of the sport’s all-time greats are immortalized in the Class of 2020. The most globally recognized players to be honored will feature Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant – three athletes that embody the motto “Love of the Game,” as each played in the league for nearly two decades. Other notable inductee include NCAA “Coach of the Year” Eddie Sutton, two-time NBA Champion Rudy Tomjanovich, and WNBA superstar Tamika Catchings. This year’s class will also honor those who have helped grow the game internationally by enshrining FIBA President Patrick Baumann.
Of this year’s class, Kevin Garnett is perhaps the most animated personality of his fellow inductees, as his ferocious and often crass trash talk efficiently distracted any player who opted to square up with him. The power forward’s 21-year streak of dominance saw him rack up the 4th most minutes in NBA history and would go on to join Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, and David Robinson as the only players to hoist an MVP and a Defensive Player of the Year Award throughout the span of their careers. Beyond his physical talents, KG also nurtured a “forthright” vocabulary that was unapologetically crass – often used to toy with opposing players who he knew would be the first to blink if words were exchanged. While many feel that trash talk is a sign of a disgusting inferiority complex, his seemed to be justified given the play in which he backed it up.
On the opposite side of the conversationalist spectrum, the other generational big man being honored in Springfield is the tame, mild-mannered Tim Duncan. Since his NBA debut in 1997, Duncan spearheaded a San Antonio Spurs franchise that never failed to lose less than 50 games in any 82-game season he spent in Alamo City. The former #1 overall pick set the foundation of “team-oriented” basketball for the entirety of his 19-year career as a Spur, which saw him win 1,158 games between regular season and playoff competition. Above everything, it was Duncan’s even-keeled, no-nonsense demeanor that made him one of the most coachable and universally respected players in NBA history.
Duncan’s impact as a teammate cannot be overstated either, as his on-court chemistry with Tony Parker and Manu Ginóbili sparkplugged the winningest trio of all-time with 575 regular season and 126 playoff wins. Their selfless, fundamentally-sound identity was dictated through the persona of a quiet and humble power forward in Duncan, whose concentration was always locked on winning. His mission could not have been better exemplified after what would end up being his last NBA Finals appearance in 2014, where he led his seemingly over-the-hill team of veterans to a rematch against a Miami Heat team with prime Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. While the Heat proved they could jump higher, run faster, and sustain stamina longer, they also showed they weren’t smarter. San Antonio defeated the touted group of All-Stars and two-time defending champions by a record margin and an average of 14.5-points by closing out the series in five merciless games. What may be the most polarizing statistic of this particular championship round is how Miami’s offensive juggernaut known as “The Big Three” failed to score 100 points in any game throughout the series – a true testament of Duncan’s well-oiled defensive machine.
The final player to be enshrined, and to no one’s surprise, is Kobe Bryant, who will be the first posthumous inductee since general manager Jerry Krause in 2017. Kobe’s illustrious career went through quite an evolutionary process – beginning as an unknown 13th overall pick who barely played, to one- half of the eventual dynamic duo with Shaquille O’Neal, to a player that would later craft his skills into the generational player of the 2000’s. Unlike the previous two players mentioned, I am not interested in retelling the staples of Kobe’s on-court legacy, but would rather reflect on what he was so excited about achieving in the present day. Whether it was on the court, at the investor’s table, or in the writing room, there was always work to be done, and it seemed like there was so much more he was ready to amaze us with.
So many athletes experience some form of stopgap during the initial phases of their retirement, where they struggle to find fulfillment outside of the game they have left behind. Some questions that arise include, “Do I pursue broadcasting, coaching, show business, or perhaps the arts? And if so, what if I’m not good at these endeavors?” This window of uncertainty players face was not a challenge to Kobe. Whether it was directing an Academy Award-winning short film, fostering an audience for his web series ‘Detail’, or crafting and publishing the young adults books The Wizenard Series: Training Camp, his curiosity truly knew no limits. The series is now #1 on The New York Times Bestseller List, and the next edition will be released posthumously later this year.
Kobe had a true hunger to reach even greater heights in the second act of his life, more than he ever did as a player, and that is what will forever resonate with me. A truly gifted artist is hardly satisfied only using one muse, and it seems like Kobe was eager to give his fans new examples of brilliance that many of them never knew was in his skill set to begin with.
The induction ceremony for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 will be held on Saturday, August 29 in Springfield, Massachusetts. For more information on viewing options, visit http://www.hoophall.com/events/enshrinement/
Thank you for taking the time to check out my latest post on the esteemed inductees to the Nasmith Hall of Fame Class of 2020. My name is Sutton Rettig and I am a passionate writer with a desire to share my thoughts on a diverse spectrum of topics. Building this blog has provided me an outlet to exercise my passion for writing and share ideas with new publics. If you enjoy reading my posts, please share them – it’s a huge help as a continue to build a following. If you have any comments or inquiries you would like to extend, please feel free to reach out by visiting the “Contact” tab on this site’s homepage – I’m always looking for feedback. To stay updated on the latest content I’m publishing, you can follow me on my Twitter & Instagram pages. My handle is @suttonrettig. I so appreciate your readership and offer my sincerest thanks for your support.
All the best,