Michael Jordan Reveals Final Text Exchange With Kobe Bryant Ahead of Basketball Hall of Fame Induction
Kobe Bryant was 41 years old when he passed away in 2020.
This weekend Kobe Bryant will posthumously be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame by Michael Jordan. Ahead of the ceremony, Jordan revealed the final text change he had with the late Los Angeles Laker to ESPN.
The text exchange occurred in December 2019, just a month before Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash in California.
Jordan explained the exchange saying Bryant initiated it to thank the Chicago Bulls icon for a bottle of Cincoro Tequila he gifted the Laker. The two then engaged in conversation about how Bryant was a youth basketball coach, to which Jordan teased him about.
"He was really into coaching [daughter] Gigi," Jordan told ESPN, "so I hit him up about that."
"Happy holidays," Jordan texted back, "and hope to catch up soon. Coach Kobe??!"
"I added that little crying/laughing emoji," Jordan explained to ESPN.
"Ah, back at you, man," Kobe wrote. "Hey, coach, I'm sitting on the bench right now, and we're blowing this team out. 45-8."
"I just love that text because it shows Kobe's competitive nature,” Jordan explained to ESPN.
In January 2020, Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in Southern California.
Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016 after winning five championships with the Lakers. Following retirement, he began coaching his daughter, Gigi, and her basketball team, Team Mamba, named after his NBA nickname. Bryant also won an Oscar for his 2018 animated short film, “Dear Basketball.”
Jordan was chosen by Kobe's family to serve as Bryant's Hall of Fame presenter, CBS News reported.
In the 2020 acclaimed documentary series, “The Last Dance,” which chronicles the career of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, Bryant is interviewed about his relationship with the NBA icon and how they stack up against each other.
“He's like my big brother,” Bryant said in an interview in the fifth episode of “The Last Dance.” “I truly hate having discussions about who would win one-on-one. Or fans saying you beat Michael one-on-one. I feel like, yo, what you get from me is from him. I don’t get five championships here without him. Because he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice.”
In the docuseries, the two are shown as Bryant was dubbed the “next Michael Jordan” at the tail-end of the Bulls champion’s career. In the fifth episode, candid cameras catch Jordan walking around Madison Square Garden for what would be his final NBA All-Star Game as a Bull chastising Bryant and referring to the Los Angeles Laker as “the little Laker boy.”
The segment with Bryant somberly and hauntingly concludes with him and Jordan walking off the court together at the 1998 All-Star Game. Jordan tells the then-neophyte player, “I’ll see you down the road,” leaving Bryant smiling from ear to ear.
Following Bryant’s death in 2020, Jordan spoke at a public memorial at the Staples Center, the home of the Lakers, and called Bryant his “little brother.”
“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died,” an emotional Jordan said during his February 2020 speech. “I promise you, from this day forward, I will live with the memories of knowing the little brother that I tried to help in every way I could. Please rest in peace, little brother.”
Bryant is one of nine to be part of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020, which will be inducted at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun arena. Bryant will be joined by Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, Tamika Catchings, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, and Patrick Baumann.
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