With the 2019-20 NBA season on pause due to the Corona Virus, there was big news on Sunday with the announcement of the 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductees. The 9 inductees are surrounded by some of the games best of all time. The class includes former FIBA and IOC executive Patrick Baumann, former women’s basketball coach Barbara Stevens, former collegiate coach Eddie Sutton, former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich, current Baylor women’s head coach Kim Mulkey, WNBA champion Tamika Catchings and NBA champions Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. With this once in a lifetime class, let’s take a look at the top five inductees.
Kim Mulkey: For beginners, Coach Mulkey is 600-100 as a head coach at Baylor University. During her tenure, she has won 11 Big 12 regular season titles and 10 Big 12 tournament titles. Mulkey won AP College Basketball Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2019. She is one of three coaches in the women’s game to win at least three National Championships (2005, 2012 and 2019), and is the only person to win a National Championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach. Mulkey won the inaugural NCAA title 1982 and a year later won the inaugural national player of the year. She was inducted in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000, and now twenty years later she will be inducted into Naismith Hall of Fame.
Tamika Catchings: Catchings spent 15 years of her Hall of Fame career with the Indiana Fever. Before her time in the WNBA, Catchings played at the University of Tennessee, where she scored over 2,000 points and won the 1998 National Championship as a Freshman. After her fantastic college career, Catchings she carried her greatness into the WNBA. In her rookie year in 2002, she won Rookie of the Year, and was awarded to her first of seven All-WNBA First Team. She also led the league in steals that year and finished her career leading the league seven times. She also was on the All-WNBA Second Team five times along with winning the Defensive Player of the Year five times. She was a 10 time All-Star along with being on the WNBA All-Defensive First Team 10 times and is the all-time steals leader. Catchings won the 2011 MVP and a year later she won her only title with the fever and was named the Finals MVP. She is first in all-time scoring, rebounding and steals in the WNBA Playoffs. Catchings retired in 2016 and ended her Hall of Fame with her fourth gold medal as a member of team USA in Rio de Janeiro.
Kevin Garnett: “Big Ticket” is a 15-time All-Star and started his 21-year career with the Minnesota Timberwolves after they took him fifth overall in the 1995 draft. He spent his first 12 years with Minnesota and went to the playoffs eight straight years, and went to the 2004 Western Conference Final, the same year he won MVP. However, that’s as far the Timberwolves would go and missed out on the playoffs in his final three years. This led to a trade in July of 2007 to the Boston Celtics. Less than a year later Garnett won his only title against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008, and also won Defensive Player of the Year. Along with his other awards, Garnett was on the All-Defensive First Team 9 times and All-Defensive Second Team twice. He was also a part of 9 All-NBA teams. He ended his 21-year career where he started, signing a one-year contract in 2015-16 with the Timberwolves.
Tim Duncan: Duncan’s illustrious NBA career was spent with one team, the San Antonio Spurs. In 1997, Duncan was the number one overall pick, and won the Rookie of the Year. One year later in won his first of five NBA Championships. Like Garnett, Duncan was a 15 time All-Star. He won two MVP’s (2002 and 2003) and won three Finals MVP’s (1999, 2003 and 2005). He was on 15 All-NBA teams, including being on the All-NBA First Team ten times. The Power Forward was on fifteen All-NBA Defensive teams, including eight All-NBA Defensive First Teams. Duncan also had a fantastic college career at Wake Forest. He was two-time ACC Player of the Year in 1996-97 and was also First Team All American in those years, while leading the country in rebounds his senior year in 1997. He has his number 21 retired at Wake Forest and in San Antonio. Duncan is considered the best Power Forward of all time and to be one of the ten best players of all time.
Kobe Bryant: Last but certainly not last, the great late Kobe Bryant. The “Black Mamba” was an 18-time All-Star is considered one of if not the greatest to ever to play the game and is also arguably on the Mount Rushmore in the history of the game. Like Garnett, he came right out of high school, and was drafted number 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets, however the Hornets traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers. He would spend his 20-year career with the Lakers and won five NBA Championships and appearing in seven, winning Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010. He was on 15 All-NBA teams, winning 11 All-NBA First Teams. He also won nine NBA All-Defensive First Team and 3 NBA All-Defensive Second Team. He led the league in scoring in 2006 and 2007 and got snubbed of his first MVP in 2006 after averaging 35.4 points a game. But win his only MVP in 2008. The Lakers retired both his numbers; 8 and 24. Kobe tragically passed away along with his thirteen-year-old daughter and seven others in a plane crash in late January. It is fitting that he will be elected to the Hall of Fame later this year.