On Saturday (May 15), over a decade after he was bestowed the honor, Michael Jordan will induct his late friend Kobe Bryant into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In preparation for the big day, he spoke to ESPN about the Lakers legend and their final conversation, even leaking a few of their text exchanges for good measure.
In the messages dated Dec. 8, 2019, Bryant and Jordan talked about Jordan’s Cincoro Tequila, checked up on family and planned to meet up with each other.
“This tequila is awesome,” Kobe said, to which the former Bulls star replied, “Thank you, my brother.”
“Yes, sir. Family good?” the later baller asked, and Jordan answered, “All good. Yours?”
“All good,” Bryant wrote.
“Happy holidays,” Jordan texted the star on what seemed to be another occasion, “and hope to catch up soon. Coach Kobe??!”
“I added that little crying/laughing emoji,” Jordan added, and Kobe answered, “Ah, back at you. Hey, coach, I’m sitting on the bench right now, and we’re blowing this team out. 45-8.”
Jordan was Kobe’s mentor, confidant and friend for years ahead of the helicopter crash that cost the lives of the Lakers star, his daughter Gianna and seven others. He made a rare appearance at Bryant’s funeral where he shared a few words about their relationship while crying hysterically.
“Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother,” he said. “Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe.” At the time, he said he didn’t think he was capable of honoring his late friend.
“I told my wife I wouldn’t do this, because I didn’t want to see it for the next three or four years,” Jordan added. “This is what Kobe Bryant does to me. He knows how to get to you in a way that affects you personally ... even if he is a pain in the ass.”
Now, as he prepares to induct Bryant into the Hall of Fame, Jordan embraces the fact that he’s nervous and may not be able to keep it together during the event.
“I was thinking, at first, I might be a little somewhat nervous about it, but then I realized I’m not going to be nervous about showing emotions for someone I absolutely loved,” he told ESPN. “That’s the humanistic side of me — people tend to forget I do have one.”
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Saturday (May 15) at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The likes of Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett will be inducted alongside Bryant.