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Lakers legend Kobe Bryant widely expected to be a 1st-ballot Hall of Famer

Kobe Bryant, Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant is widely expected to be a first-ballot enshrinement into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, once his opportunity arrives to make the Class of 2020 comes later this year, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Bryant died on Sunday in a helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. The group was en route to a basketball academy when they crashed into a grassy area of Calabasas, resulting in the instant death of all passengers.

Bryant, who last played in 2015-16, was already a surefire favorite to land with some of the best names of the late 90s, but will now have to accept the honor posthumously — only months before the Class of 2020 is announced for enshrinement.

“Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett,” Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo said about the upcoming 2020 class. “Kobe will be honored the way he should be.”

Bryant played all his 20 NBA years for the Lakers, forging an illustrious career, which closed with perhaps the greatest goodbye — a 60-point game in a finale win against the Utah Jazz in April of 2016.

Despite being drafted in 1996, he made his mark across generations, impacting most of today’s NBA players who have since shown their grief after learning of his death.

Bryant won five championships, an MVP, two Finals MVPs, four All-Star MVPs, and was an All-Star for 18 of his 20 seasons in the league. He is the fourth all-time leading scorer in the NBA and considered one of the greatest players in league history.