"Kobe will be honored the way he should be."
There was never any doubt that Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but things will obviously be handled much differently this year in wake of Bryant's tragic death.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has decided to forego the normal election process, announcing Kobe as the first inductee of the 2020 class. The rest of this year's Hall of Fame class, which will surely include Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett among others, will be announced in April.
Bryant, 41, spent each of his 20 NBA seasons with the Lakers, starting with his rookie campaign in 1996. During his illustrious career, Bryant earned 18 All-Star nods, four All-Star MVPs, two NBA Finals MVPs, league MVP in 2007-2008, and he captured five NBA championships. He averaged 25.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game during his 20 seasons, and ranks fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
In addition to all of his on-court achievements, Bryant also experienced a tremendous amount of success in his post-NBA life, including an Oscar for his short animated film, "Dear Basketball." Most of all, Kobe's closest friends remember him as a loving father and husband who cherished his family more than any of his other accolades.
Click here to see how Bryant's peers, fans, and others are mourning the loss and celebrating his life.