"We knew this class had the potential of being one of the most historic of all time", said Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo. And of course with Kobe's death, it added more focus.
The finalists were picked from nearly 200 nominees, and announced at the United Center on Friday during NBA All-Star Weekend.
Among the first-time nominees who were selected as finalists were Bryant, Duncan, Garnett and Catchings. An NBA champion and NBA MVP, KG is a 15-time NBA All-Star, nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, Defensive Player of the Year, and he has an Olympic gold medal. He ranks fourth on the career points list (33,643) and famously scored 81 points in a game - the second-most in National Basketball Association history. He is ranked in the top 10 all-time in rebounds and blocks. Garnett also won Defensive Player of the Year that season and had a distinguished career with the Minnesota Timberwolves, winning the MVP award in 2003-04.
Michael Wilbon and Mike Breen were elected to the Hall of Fame as recipients of the Curt Gowdy Media Award.
Other finalists rounding out the class, announced during the NBA's 2020 All-Star weekend in Chicago, are Baylor University women's basketball head coach Kim Mulkey, former Houston Rockets forward and two-time champion head coach Rudy Tomjanovich, Bentley University women's basketball head coach Barbara Stevens, retired Arkansas and Kentucky men's basketball head coach Eddie Sutton, and retired Indiana Fever WNBA champion Tamika Catchings. The enshrinement ceremony will take place at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. on August 29.