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5 best candidates to speak at Kobe Bryant’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Lakers, Kobe Bryant,

Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant was supposed to headline the 2020 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Class — arguably the most star-studded group in recent memory.

Names like Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Tamika Catchings and Rudy Tomjanovich, among others, will all be honored on the same night. But make no mistake about it, all eyes would have been fixated on Kobe.

Unfortunately, we’ve been stripped of that opportunity to see him put on that iconic orange jacket.

To this day, it still a tough pill to swallow how the lives of Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were taken away from their families in just a blink of an eye.

It’s surreal how we’ll never hear Bryant talk about that beautiful 81-point game again. We’ll never fully grasp what was really going through his mind in his final NBA game.

Sure, we’ve heard plenty of amazing Kobe stories from players and everyone close to him in recent months.  Still, a lot of fans would do about anything just to hear it from the man himself. That’s just who he was, a transcendent talent who touched millions of lives throughout his legendary 20-year NBA career.

Bryant will now be inducted posthumously, and it’s only fitting that he be glorified by those who truly knew him.

Let’s have a look at five possible candidates who should speak at Kobe Bryant’s Hall of Fame induction.

Shaquille O’Neal

Shaq’s love-and-hate relationship with Kobe is perhaps well known even by those who don’t follow basketball. Teammates-turned-bitter rivals. Then enemies turned to friends. It was the perfect script.

The pair did take a lot of petty digs at each other over the years.

Beef aside, there’s no denying that Kobe and Shaq were indeed the most terrifying one-two punch in NBA history. That early 2000’s Lakers team will always be the biggest “what ifs?” in the world of sports.

We’ve seen Shaq beam with pride when he talked about Bryant during his memorial. Tales of him and Kobe going at it will once again produce plenty of laughs among the attendees. As great as they are as individuals, Kobe and Shaq’s names will always be intertwined. The Big Diesel, a Hall of Famer himself, should be at the top of this list.

Michael Jordan

Kobe Bryant was the closest thing to Michael Jordan, period. Most pundits have this false narrative of how Kobe and MJ had this intense rivalry considering how the late superstar mimicked Jordan in almost every aspect.

Unbeknownst to many until recently, the pair actually had more of a big brother-little brother relationship.

Jordan, who rarely makes public appearances these days, was one of the esteemed individuals who spoke about Bryant during his memorial. He admitted that a piece of him died with Kobe.

The man, after all, risked getting immortalized online with another crying Jordan meme. Not sure if he’s willing to go for a third time.

Jordan should once again be considered to speak for Bryant, since he is a big influence on how Kobe became the man that he is, both on and off the court.

Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson was unable to speak during Bryant’s memorial, but he did pen a heartfelt tribute to his former player.

The Zen Master described Bryant as the Chosen One.

“Our relationship as coach/player transcended the norm. He went beyond the veil,” Jackson shared.

Jackson, of course, was at the helm of the Lakers during all of Bryant’s five NBA title conquests. Phil and Kobe’s relationship wasn’t always amicable. It got so bad at one point that Jackson actually once demanded the Purple and Gold to trade the defiant Bryant.

The pair did eventually mend fences, which resulted in two more titles. It’s a feel-good story of how reconciliation could lead to bigger things.

It will be interesting to hear more about this dynamic from Phil himself.

Pau Gasol

Despite winning back-to-back titles together, the Bryant-Gasol pairing did not make a lot of noise compared to his previous relationships with Shaq and Phil.

There was no feud, no ill-will towards one another whatsoever. It was just simply two superstars who looked like they enjoyed the same things and had mutual respect for one another.

Kobe even defended Pau multiple times when the latter was treated as the scapegoat during the Lakers’ 2008 Finals lost to the Celtics.

Bryant and Gasol simply had a world of their own. The multi-lingual Bryant even spoke Spanish with Gasol on the floor to confuse their opponents.

Gasol will likely also one day find himself being honored in the same stage, but it will be nice to see him talk about his dear friend first.

Vanessa Bryant

Vanessa Bryant did not spend a single second with Kobe on the hardwood, but she truly knew him more than anyone else could.

At a time when tributes aired for Kobe, Vanessa made sure the whole world will also not forget about Gigi and the seven others who tragically perished last January.

Kobe is survived by Vanessa and their three daughters Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. There’s arguably no one more deserving of receiving that HOF jacket in Kobe’s stead.