Kobe Bryant is among the eight finalists

© Provided by The Canadian Press

CHICAGO – As widely anticipated, the Basketball Hall of Fame has announced that Kobe Bryant is one of the finalists for the 2020 cohort in its first year of eligibility.

Bryant has won five NBA championships and been part of 18 all-star teams, spending all of his 20 years in the NBA with the Lakers.

Twice Olympic gold medalist, he is the fourth highest point scorer in history. Bryant averaged 25 points per game.

Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died on January 26 in a helicopter accident near Los Angeles.

Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, each a member of 15 all-star teams, are also nominated for the first time.

The other finalists: Rudy Tomjanovich, former Rockets coach; Eddie Sutton, four-time NCAA men's basketball coach of the year; Tamika Catchings, four-time Olympic gold medalist, member of 10 star teams (WNBA), as well as Kim Mulkey and Barbara Stevens, women basketball coaches, in the NCAA.

The cohort will be announced on April 4, as part of the March Madness semi-finals.

The induction ceremony will take place on August 29 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

"The Hall of Fame, you never really think about it, you don't really dream about it," said Garnett. It's really beyond comprehension. ”

After a dozen seasons in Minnesota, Garnett joined the Celtics, helping the team win the championship in 2008. Boston will retire its number 5 next season.

Duncan has been a landmark figure in the history of Spurs. Like Bryant, he was part of five NBA championship teams.

Tomjanovich led Houston to the title in 1994 and 1995.

In the media category, the Temple will honor separate commentators Michael Wilbon, Jim Gray and Mike Breen, as well as the 'Inside the NBA' team: Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal.

The Temple will want to find the right tone to both celebrate the arrival of new members, but also to honor the memory of those who have disappeared, such as Bryant and former NBA commissioner David Stern.

"There is great sensitivity," said Jerry Colangelo, who runs the Pantheon. It will be done the right way. ”

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press