Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and the fourth all-time leading scorer in league history, has been posthumously elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
The announcement was made Saturday on ESPN.
The 18-time NBA All-Star played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning the league MVP once and the finals MVP twice. He also captured two Olympic gold medals. Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a January 26 helicopter crash in Southern California as they traveled to a youth basketball tournament.
Other notable names joining Bryant into the hall are: Tim Duncan, a five-time NBA champion and 15-time NBA All-Star with the San Antonio Spurs. He is the only player in NBA history with at least 1,000 wins with one team; Kevin Garnett, a 15-time NBA All-Star who won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008. He led the league in rebounds for four straight seasons; Tamika Catchings, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and 2012 WNBA champion with the Indiana Fever. She won the 2011 MVP.
The representative of the pilot who was flying the helicopter that killed Kobe and Gianna Bryant, along with 6 other passengers, claims the people on board were responsible for the fatal crash.
It's pretty shocking ... the relative of pilot Ara George Zobayan, who also died in the crash, has answered Vanessa Bryant's lawsuit against Ara and the helicopter company, Island Express, saying, "Any injuries or damages to plaintiffs and/or their decedent were directly caused in full or in part by the negligence or fault of plaintiffs and/or their decedent, including their knowing and voluntary encounter with the risks involved, and that this negligence was a substantial factor in causing their purported damages, for which this answering defendant bears no responsibility."
It's shocking because the LAPD and other law enforcement agencies grounded their fleet the morning of the crash due to fog and poor visibility. The pilot had to circle around the Griffith Park area for 15 minutes before being cleared to fly to the Mamba Academy up north.
The pilot was going 184 MPH in blinding fog when he crashed into a hill, killing everyone on board.
The answer to the lawsuit doesn't address how the passengers might have been negligent or assumed a risk. As for negligence ... presumably, they were just sitting in their seats. As for assuming a risk ... it's unclear what risk falls on passengers of an aircraft when the pilot is in control.