Kobe Bryant Will Be Posthumously Inducted Into Basketball Hall of Fame

Kobe Bryant is viewed as one of the greatest players in NBA history, but he had not been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame at the time of his death due to the league's three-year waiting period. Following the Sunday's tragic helicopter crash that killed him, however, a major decision has been made. Bryant will be posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.

Chairman Jerry Colangelo released a statement on Monday saying that Bryant will be inducted into the Hallowed Halls. This was expected considering the impact that he had on the NBA, but his untimely death changed the situation's timing. Bryant will reportedly be part of the screening process on Wednesday. Finalists are announced in February during the All-Star Break, and the inductions take place in April.

"Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett," Colangelo said to Shams Charania of The Athletic. "Kobe will be honored the way he should be."

When a player, coach or referee retires, they must wait three years prior to being eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame. The time period was originally five years, but it was shortened to four in 2015. It was later shortened once again down to three in 2017.

Bryant was in his first year of eligibility after retiring in 2016, but he was expected to be a first-ballot selection. This was cemented on Monday with the announcement of his posthumous induction.

Bryant played for 20 years in the NBA, all of which were spent with the Lakers. He was a five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, and 18-time All-Star. Bryant was also named league MVP. There were no doubts in the minds of NBA fans that he would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer after the three-year waiting period.

With the announcement on Monday, the question has since turned to which prominent figure will have the honor of actually inducting Bryant. He spoke on the matter back in 2017 during an interview with Complex and listed two possible options.

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"In terms of who might present, for me, it's two people: Michael Jordan or [former Lakers coach] Phil Jackson," Bryant said "They've been the greatest mentors, not only in my career as an athlete, but also as a person. And what I might say is just a lot of thank-yous. 'Cause I've had a lotta help along the way. A lotta lotta help."

(Photo Credit: Getty)