The Enshrinement Ceremony for The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is exactly one month away, and the Class of 2020 is certainly a star-studded one. Inductees include former NBA superstars Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, WNBA legend Tamika Catchings among others.
On Thursday, the list of Hall of Fame presenters for the Class of 2020 was officially announced. Those getting inducted were asked to select previous inductees to present them at the Enshrinement Ceremony. The choice of who would present them was entirely up to the incoming Hall of Famers, or the family of those being recognized posthumously. The group of selected presenters includes Michael Jordan, who will present both Bryant and Baylor Women's coach Kim Mulkey, Isiah Thomas, who will present Garnett and David Robinson, who will do the honors for former San Antonio Spurs teammate Tim Duncan.
You can see the complete list of 2020 Hall of Fame inductees and presenters below:
- Patrick Baumann, presented by Russ Granik (2013), Vlade Divac (2019)
- Kobe Bryant, presented by Michael Jordan (2009)
- Tamika Catchings, presented by Alonzo Mourning (2014), Dawn Staley (2013)
- Tim Duncan, presented by David Robinson (2009)
- Kevin Garnett, presented by Isiah Thomas (2000)
- Kim Mulkey, presented by Michael Jordan (2009)
- Barbara Stevens, presented by Geno Auriemma (2006), Muffet McGraw (2017)
- Eddie Sutton, presented by John Calipari (2015), Bill Self (2017), Sidney Moncrief (2019)
- Rudy Tomjanovich, presented by Calvin Murphy (1993), Hakeem Olajuwon (2008)
Jordan presenting for Bryant is the most intriguing pairing given the history between the two. Bryant idolized Jordan growing up, and he molded his game after him, which was clear to anyone who watched the two play. Once Bryant made it to the NBA, he made it his goal to soak up as much knowledge as he possibly could from Jordan, and over time the two developed a strong bond. Bryant ultimately went on to pass Jordan on the NBA's all-time scoring list, and at the time he referred to Jordan as a "big brother."
"We hit it off very well," Bryant said. "He was really like a big brother, and whether it's because we see things in a similar way in terms of our competitive spirit or fire or whatever the case may be, there's an understanding that we have -- a connection that we have."
Jordan embraced that role, and tried to fulfill it to the best of his duties. He spoke at Bryant's memorial service nearly one month after the Lakers legend's fatal helicopter crash last year, and he made it clear exactly how much Bryant meant to him.
"Kobe was my dear friend; he was like a little brother," Jordan said. "When Kobe died, a little piece of me died. ... This kid had passion like you would never know. As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be."
For Jordan, being selected to present for Bryant by his family is an enormous honor, and certainly not one that he will take for granted. While Jordan will present for Kobe, Bryant's wife, Vanessa, will accept the award and speak in honor of her late husband during the ceremony.
The Enshrinement Ceremony is scheduled to be held on Saturday, May 15 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The ceremony was initially supposed to be held in October 2020, but it was rescheduled to its current date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be the first time that the event is held at Mohegan Sun, as it's typically held in Springfield, Massachusetts. Safety was cited as the main reason for the change of venue.
"For this single event, and only because of the pandemic, we will relocate the entire event one time to Mohegan Sun which has been a long-time marketing partner of the Hall. Mohegan Sun has shown they can effectively operate a 'near-bubble' for our event which provides a more secure environment for our guests," Hall of Fame President John Doleva said in a statement.
Though the location will be different, the 2020 Enshrinement Ceremony promises to be a very memorable one given the list of inductees.