“I wish my husband was here to accept this incredible award,” Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, said at the ceremony, as she was joined onstage by basketball legend Michael Jordan. “He and Gigi deserved to be here to witness this. Gigi would be so proud to watch her daddy get enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame.”
“There will never be anyone like Kobe,” Vanessa Bryant said. “Kobe was one of a kind. He was special, he was humble — off the court — but bigger than life.”
She concluded: “Congratulations baby. All of your hard work and sacrifices paid off.
“You did it. You’re in the Hall of Fame now. You’re a true champ. You’re not just an MVP, you are an all-time great. I’m so proud of you. I love you forever and always.”
Among the nine inducted on Saturday were former Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett and San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, who reminisced on playing against his Hall of Fame classmates Garnett and Bryant.
“You’re at your best, when you face the best,” Duncan said. “I want to say thank you to the late, great Kobe Bryant, to KG. You guys demanded the best out of me, and it brought the best out of me. Thank you, guys.”
WNBA’s Indiana Fever legend Tamika Catchings was also inducted Saturday.
“Basketball chose me,” Catchings said. “An awkward, lanky, introverted tomboy, born with a hearing disability, a speech impediment and a will to overcome obstacles, dream big and to change the world.”
“We all have dreams and goals,” Catchings added. “And whether you’re young or old, born with a disability or have been told of the things you can’t accomplish, tonight I share the same words that my parents shared with me, with a twist. If anyone can do it, you can. Shoot for the stars, work hard and catch your dream.”
Among the others inducted were coaches Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton and Rudy Tomjanovich. Swiss basketball executive Patrick Baumann was posthumously inducted by the International Committee.