NBA: Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers

Dec 18, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Former Lakers player Kobe Bryant speaks to the media prior to the Lakers' game against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center. Bryant's numbers 8 and 24 were to be retired during a halftime ceremony. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is bypassing the normal election process and making the late Kobe Bryant the first inductee of the 2020 class, The Athletic reported Monday.

"Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett," Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo said, per the report. "Kobe will be honored the way he should be."

Bryant, 41, died Sunday along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash in California.

As an 18-time All-Star, a five-time NBA champion and the fourth-leading scorer in league history, Bryant was virtually assured of being elected on the first ballot in his first year of eligibility this year anyway.

The other 2020 finalists will be announced on Feb. 14 during All-Star Weekend. The rest of the class will be announced in April at the Final Four, and Bryant's posthumous induction will take place in Springfield, Mass., on Aug. 29.

--Field Level Media

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