Tim Duncan

Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett highlight Hall of Fame finalists

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USA Today

Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett highlight Hall of Fame finalists

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.

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Toni Kukoc gets third shot at Hall of Fame nod in star-studded class

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AP

Toni Kukoc gets third shot at Hall of Fame nod in star-studded class

Another year, another round of voting for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. And the 2020 class of eligible candidates is absolutely stacked.

The first-time candidates boast some especially historic names, including Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh. Between the 1999-00 and 2014-15 seasons, only one NBA Finals was played without one of those four participating — Bryant appeared in seven Finals, winning five; Duncan was in six, winning five; Garnett in two, winning one; and Bosh in four, winning two. Overall, the four have 13 rings and 59 All-Star appearances between them, and Garnett, Bryant and Duncan have all won MVP awards (Duncan twice).

The sure-firedness of those four will overshadow a host of repeat-nominees beneath them, but there's a compelling collection, nonetheless. Rick Adelman, Rudy Tomjanovich and George Karl rank among the notable eligible coaches.

In Bulls-specific news, Toni Kukoc checks in as an International Committee nominee for the third consecutive year. Kukoc spent nine of his 15 NBA seasons with the Bulls, winning three titles and averaging 14.1 points per game over his tenure.

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