MJ to serve as Kobe’s presenter at Naismith HOF

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The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced the list of Hall of Famers scheduled to present the 2020 class of honorees — led by Michael Jordan honoring Kobe Bryant.

Jordan, who spoke at Bryant’s memorial service in February 2020, will also introduce Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, making him the only Hall of Famer presenting multiple candidates during this year’s induction ceremony.

The connection between Jordan — arguably the greatest player of all time — and Bryant — who did everything he could to emulate his idol — was far deeper than anyone knew, though that only came to light when Jordan gave his heartfelt speech at the memorial service following Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash.

“At first, it was an aggravation,” Jordan said of Bryant constantly peppering him with questions early in his career. “Then it became a passion.

“As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother I could be.”

Bryant is far from the only big name in the 2020 class, which is being honored on May 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fellow first-ballot inductees Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett will be introduced by David Robinson and Isiah Thomas, respectively, while Rudy Tomjanovich, the two-time NBA champion coach of the Houston Rockets, will be presented by franchise icons Hakeem Olajuwon and Calvin Murphy.

Eddie Sutton, who made three Final Fours and was the national college coach of the year four times, will be presented by former player Sidney Moncrief, former assistant and Kansas coach Bill Self, and Kentucky coach John Calipari. Sutton died last May. Five-time Division II national coach of the year Barbara Stevens will be introduced by Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma and former Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw; WNBA legend Tamika Catchings will be presented by Alonzo Mourning and South Carolina coach Dawn Staley; and longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann will be introduced by former NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik and Vlade Divac. Baumann died in 2018.

The inductees or their families had the opportunity to choose previous Hall of Famers to introduce them.

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