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Lakers legend Kobe Bryant enshrined in Basketball Hall of Fame

Vanessa Bryant stood at the podium as her late husband Kobe Bryant was being formally inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball of Fame, noting that she avoided praising the former Los Angeles Lakers star in public.

She regularly heard thousands of fans and other people heaping praise on the five-time NBA champion, 18-time NBA All-Star and 2007-08 MVP.

“Someone had to bring him back to reality,” Vanessa Bryant said.

“Right now, I’m sure he’s laughing in heaven because I’m about to praise him in public for his accomplishments on one of the most public stages.”

Presenter Michael Jordan kisses Vanessa Bryant on the head after Bryant spoke on behalf of her late husband, Kobe Bryant, after Bryant was enshrined as part of the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class Saturday, May 15, 2021, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Camera IconPresenter Michael Jordan kisses Vanessa Bryant on the head after Bryant spoke on behalf of her late husband, Kobe Bryant, after Bryant was enshrined as part of the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class Saturday, May 15, 2021, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) Credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Vanessa Bryant’s speech was the highlight of the ceremony in Connecticut, in which Kobe Bryant was one of the nine members of the 2020 Hall of Fame class.

The 2021 Hall of Fame class, with Australian Opals superstar Lauren Jackson among the nominees for induction, is slated to be announced on Sunday.

NBA legends Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett were among the other inductees in the 2020 class.

The late Kobe Bryant Hall of Fame
Camera IconThe late Kobe Bryant has been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Credit: AP

Among those inducted on Saturday were NBA player and coach Rudy Tomjanovich and star women’s player Tamika Catchings.

The induction ceremony was delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kobe Bryant died at age 41 on January 26, 2020, in a helicopter crash in Southern California.

His 13-year-daughter Gianna also died in the crash as did seven others, including the pilot.

Kobe Bryant was presented by Michael Jordan, a player he looked up to as a child.

Vanessa Bryant said Kobe was greatly looking forward to the induction ceremony with the award basically being the topper to his stellar 20-year NBA career.

“Kobe’s personal stats speak for themselves, Kobe was on a different level,” Vanessa Bryant said.

“He never took shortcuts when it came to basketball. He gave this game his all.”

Vanessa Bryant’s final remarks, directed to Kobe, ramped up the emotional attendees.

“You did it, you’re in the Hall of Fame now,” Vanessa Bryant said.

“You’re a true champ. You’re not just an MVP, you are an all-time great.

“I’m so proud of you. I love you forever and always, Kobe Bean Bryant.”

Duncan, a five-time NBA champion who spent his entire 19-year career with the San Antonio Spurs, was presented by former Spurs teammate David Robinson, the 2009 Hall of Fame inductee who was the face of the franchise when Duncan was selected No.1 overall in the 1997 draft.

Garnett spent most of his 21-year career with either the Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics.

The 15-time All-Star, who won a title with the Celtics in 2008, was known for high-level intensity that never took a calming break.

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