Less than three weeks after his tragic death in a helicopter crash, Kobe Bryant has been named as a finalist for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Bryant, a five-time champion during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, was one of four players and four coaches named as finalists for the Hall of Fame's class of 2020.
San Antonio Spurs star and five-time champion Tim Duncan, 15-time NBA all-star Kevin Garnett and 10-time WNBA all-star Tamika Catchings, along with coaches Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton and Rudy Tomjanovich joined Bryant on the list of finalists.
Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo announced the finalists at the NBA's All-Star Weekend in Chicago, noting that "the untimely passing of Kobe Bryant has left us in a state of reflective mourning".
"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," Colangelo said in a statement.
"We're proud to honour [Bryant's] 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, and we look forward to revealing the Class of 2020 at the Final Four in Atlanta."
The 2020 class will be finalised and announced on April 4. Colangelo said that other traditional honours, including elections from the Men's and Women's Veterans Committees and the Early African American Pioneer Committee will be suspended in 2020 in light of the "magnitude and the unique circumstance surrounding the potential Class of 2020".
"It is expected these categories will return for consideration for 2021," Colangelo said.
"The goal of this suspension is to provide each enshrinee with the recognition and notoriety he or she deserves upon election."
Bryant retired in 2016 ranking No 3 on the NBA's all-time scoring list, and the Lakers honoured his distinguished career by retiring both of his jersey numbers: 8 and 24. One of the most talented offensive players in league history, he was long regarded as a lock to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. His list of accomplishments includes the 2008 MVP award, back-to-back NBA Finals MVPs in 2009 and 2010, and 15 All-NBA selections. Bryant also won gold medals with USA Basketball at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
A public memorial for Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who also died when the helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California on January 26, will be held at Staples Centre on February 24.