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Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January — has been elected into the NBA’s Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Bryant will be joined by Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett in the star-studded group selected to the 2020 class announced Saturday.

The trio, who combined for 11 NBA championships, are among nine people scheduled to be enshrined into the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts on August 29.

Also selected were Tamika Catchings, a 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medallist, coaches Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, Barbara Stevens and Kim Mulkey, and longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann.

“The Class of 2020 is undoubtedly one of the most historic of all time and the talent and social influence of these nine honourees is beyond measure,” said John L Doleva, president and CEO of the Hall of Fame.

“In 2020, the basketball community has suffered the unimaginable loss of iconic figures Commissioner David Stern and Kobe Bryant, as well as the game itself due to COVID-19. We have also banded together like never before in appreciation of the game and those who have made it the uniting force it is today. Today we thank the Class of 2020 for all they have done for the game of basketball and we look forward to celebrating them at Enshrinement in August.”

Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January at age 41 along with his daughter and nine others.

His widow Vanessa said: “It’s an incredible accomplishment and honour, and we’re extremely proud of him. It’s definitely the peak of his NBA career.”

Bryant was an 18-time NBA All-Star, five-time NBA champion with the Lakers, and two-time NBA Finals MVP. He also ranks fourth all-time in scoring in the NBA.