With large gatherings still frowned upon amid the coronavirus pandemic, recent Basketball Hall of Fame inductees Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan will have to wait a year for their enshrinement in Springfield.
“We’re definitely canceling,” Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Hall of Fame’s board of governors, told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. “It's going to have to be the first quarter of next year. We'll meet in a couple of weeks and look at the options of how and when and where."
Kobe, KG, Duncan, Tamika Catchings, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton (who passed away over the weekend) and former Rockets head coach Rudy Tomjanovich were slated to be enshrined in late August with the weekend of October 10-12 floated as a potential fallback date, but the continuing effects of COVID-19 obviously prevented that from happening.
This year’s enshrinement was also complicated by the Hall of Fame’s recent $23-million renovation. The venue closed in early February with plans to reopen on March 25, but due to the coronavirus, the Hall of Fame remains closed until further notice. Holding the enshrinement ceremony elsewhere—Springfield’s 2,611-seat Symphony Hall and the nearby MassMutual Center (8,319 seating capacity) were popular suggestions—was discussed, though ultimately the Hall of Fame felt postponing the event was easier.
While the trio of Bryant, Duncan and Garnett won’t be honored as official Hall-of-Famers until next spring, Colangelo made clear that the Classes of 2020 and 2021 will be enshrined in separate ceremonies. “We won't be combining them," Colangelo confirmed Wednesday. "The Class of 2020 is a very special class and deserves its own celebration."
Due to COVID delays, Garnett, whose iconic number five will be retired by the Celtics this upcoming season, will likely be enshrined in the same year as former teammate Paul Pierce. Along with Pierce, a 10-time All-Star and 2018 NBA Finals MVP, Chris Bosh and Chris Webber also appear destined for enshrinement in 2021. Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace, both contributors to the Pistons’ title run in 2004, have an outside chance of joining Pierce, Bosh and Webber in the Class of ’21.