Bryant, fourth all time in NBA scoring, played for the Los Angeles Lakers during an 20-year career that was highlighted by five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs and one league MVP.
The announcement he was being named as a finalist to the hall of fame came during the NBA All-Star weekend in Chicago, which culminates on Sunday with an exhibition game featuring the sport’s best.
The three-day event is likely to be muted as the National Basketball Association pays homage to the dead player.
“I’ve never seen in my long life an athlete passing that had the impact that Kobe’s passing had on people, people on the street, people that didn’t even know him,” said Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, after the announcement was made.
“In my case it was personal – so much more difficult for me and family,” said Colangelo, a long-time NBA executive who was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2004.
Joining Bryant as finalists were former NBA stars Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh, along with former Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) stars Swin Cash and Tamika Catchings.
Bryant was on his way with his daughter Gianna, and seven others to a youth basketball tournament on January 26 when the helicopter they were in crashed in Calabassas, California.
A memorial service for Bryant and the others killed in the crash is tore held on February 24 at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles.
Additional reporting by Reuters