The entire world – sporting and beyond – has paid numerous tributes to Kobe Bryant since his untimely death on January 26, when the basketball superstar tragically passed away alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other victims in a devastating helicopter crash near Los Angeles.
With the NBA All-Star Weekend now upon us, the occasion sees the sport of basketball come together to honour all those who lost their lives.
As the weekend kicked off on Friday, the NBA took the opportunity to announce Bryant as a finalist to be immortalised in the Basketball Hall of Fame this year.
Nominated for potential induction back in December last year prior to his passing, Bryant is joined as a finalist by fellow NBA legends Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.
Each of the trio are first-time nominees, who have deservedly been selected – but it is, of course, Bryant’s inclusion which has been most widely celebrated.
Per unilad.co.uk, Jerry Colangelo – Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – paid tribute to Bryant following the announcement.
“When the nominees for the Class of 2020 were announced in December, we knew this class had the potential of being one of the most historic of all time.
“The untimely passing of Kobe Bryant has left us in a state of reflective mourning and we’re proud to honour his legacy while also recognising seven other individuals who have meant so much to our game. We congratulate our finalists and those who have supported them on their journeys.”
Sunday evening’s All-Star Game in Chicago will be dedicated to their memories, with players having patches sewn into their jerseys in remembrance of all nine victims.
The game itself will also see its rules altered in order to celebrate the life of Bryant – particular in the fourth quarter.
Entering the game’s fourth stanza, the game clock will be deactivated and instead a “final target score” will be set for both teams.
This target score will be determined by taking the leading team’s total score for three quarters and adding 24 points – that being the number of the jersey that Bryant wore for the majority of his NBA career.
Technically, in order to be formally inducted, Bryant must receive 18 of 24 votes from The Hall’s Honours Committee when the final class of 2020 is voted on during the NCAA Final Four weekend on April 4.
Bryant’s enshrinement, however, is surely an absolute formality. The memory of the five-time NBA champion will live forever.