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Basketball Hall Of Fame Postpones Enshrinement Because Of Coronavirus

The late Kobe Bryant, shown in 2016, headlines the star-studded Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
The late Kobe Bryant, shown in 2016, headlines the star-studded Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020.

Updated 4:13 p.m. ET

The Basketball Hall of Fame's upcoming enshrinement weekend may be scratched from this year's calendar because of the coronavirus, President and CEO John Doleva confirmed Thursday.

"Given the unprecedented challenge of planning in the COVID-19 era, we are exploring several scenarios to accommodate the Class of 2020 ceremony, including postponing the festivities until October or early 2021," Doleva said in a statement.

He added the Hall of Fame is reviewing all options with a final decision to be made the week of June 15.

"We congratulate the highly anticipated Class of 2020 and look forward to gathering to celebrate their tremendous careers and impact on the game when it's determined safe to do so," he said.

The delay is particularly notable because the incoming Class of 2020, considered one of the best ever, will be headlined by the late Kobe Bryant.

Keeping the option to hold the festivities in October seems to be at odds with what another high-ranking official at the Hall of Fame told ESPN on Wednesday.

"We're definitely canceling," Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame's board of governors, told the sports network. "It's going to have to be the first quarter of next year. We'll meet in a couple of weeks and look at the options of how and when and where."

The original dates for the enshrinement weekend were in late August, with alternate dates in October. However, Colangelo also told ESPN that the dates are "just not feasible" because of the pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 people in the United States alone.

Other notable members of the class include Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, WNBA legend Tamika Catchings and coaches Rudy Tomjanovich and Kim Mulkey.

Three members of the 2020 class will be inducted posthumously.

Bryant died four months ago when his helicopter crashed in Calabasas, Calif. Eight others died in the crash, including his daughter Gianna. He was 41. Bryant played 20 seasons, all with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he won five NBA Championships.

His public funeral held at Staples Centers drew thousands and was broadcast live on television.

Also set to be honored is Eddie Sutton, the longtime college coach who amassed more than 800 victories. He died earlier this month at 84.

Another 2020 honoree is Patrick Baumann, the long-serving secretary general for the International Basketball Federation, who died in October 2018 at 51.

Colangelo said that even though the 2020 and 2021 classes will be enshrined in the same year, there will be separate events for each.

"We won't be combining them," he said to ESPN. "The Class of 2020 is a very special class and deserves its own celebration."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.