Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan headline in 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame finalists

Chicago [USA], Feb 15 (ANI): Late legend and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan were named finalists to the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among the nine people killed when a helicopter they were travelling in crashed amid foggy conditions and burst into flames in the hills above Calabasas last month.

This year's list includes four first-time finalists -- 18-time NBA All-Star and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, 15-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan, 15-time NBA All-Star and nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection Kevin Garnett, and 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings.

Previous finalists included again this year for consideration are three-time NCAA National Championship Coach of Baylor Kim Mulkey, five-time Division II National Coach of the Year Barbara Stevens, four-time National Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton and two-time NBA Champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich.

"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," said Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

"The untimely passing of Kobe Bryant has left us in a state of reflective mourning and we are proud to honor 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. We look forward to revealing the Class of 2020 at the Final Four in Atlanta," he added.

Given the magnitude and the unique circumstance surrounding the potential Class of 2020, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Election Process Committee has suspended the Direct Election Categories for one year with the exception of the International Committee.

The suspension will affect the men's and women's Veterans Committees, the Early African American Pioneer Committee, and the Contributor Committee. It is expected that these categories will return for consideration for 2021.

The goal of this suspension is to provide each enshrinee with the recognition and notoriety he or she deserves upon election.

The complete list of five finalists from the North American Screening Committee includes -- players Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett, plus coaches Eddie Sutton and Rudy Tomjanovich.

The three finalists from the Women's Screening Committee include -- player Tamika Catchings and coaches Kim Mulkey and Barbara Stevens.

A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame Class of 2020 announcement will take place at the NCAA Final Four in Atlanta in Georgia on April 4. (ANI)