When Kevin Garnett is at a loss for words, you know something is up.
“This is one of the more — uh, I have to get it together — overwhelming situations,” Garnett said.
That’s what happens when, expected or not, you’re announced as a finalist for the 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class.
Since Garnett played his final season of high school basketball locally at Farragut Academy before beginning his 21-year career, the typically loquacious personality was asked what a teenaged version of him might say about this moment.
“He would probably think this is pretty awesome right here,” Garnett said. “The Hall of Fame is something you don’t even dream about. It just happens.”
It almost certainly will for Garnett when the class is announced April 4 at the NCAA Final Four. He, along with Tim Duncan and the late Kobe Bryant, are virtual shoo-ins for election.
Bryant’s tragic death added a difficult layer to the proceedings. The election process committee suspended the direct-elect categories from all but the international committee. This ensures a smaller class.
Other finalists included four-time Olympic gold medalist and Stevenson High product Tamika Catchings and coaches Rudy Tomjanovich, Eddie Sutton, Kim Mulkey and Barbara Stevens.
“I’m just so thankful,” said Catchings, who played at Stevenson before transferring to Duncanville High in Texas.
Colangelo worked for the Phoenix Suns when they held a predraft workout for Bryant, who, like Garnett, entered the NBA straight from high school.
“We ended up with Steve Nash who was not bad,” Colangelo said. “But he wasn’t Kobe.”
As chairman of USA Basketball, Colangelo then watched how Bryant worked on two gold-medal winning teams at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.
“I saw the leadership he had,” Colangelo said. “When we went to training camp, he was in the workout room at 5:30 a.m. LeBron (James), Carmelo (Anthony), (Dwyane) Wade, (Chris) Bosh all the guys with him followed suit. And on the first day of practice, he was diving for a loose ball. And he set the tone.”
The Hall of Fame named Michael Wilbon and Mike Breen as Curt Gowdy Media award recipients for print and broadcast, respectively.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.