Almost 16 months after the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, along with his daughter and seven others, in a helicopter accident, Michael Jordan has revealed the final messages they exchanged, which he still can’t bear to delete.
Jordan, Kobe’s mentor, confidant and friend, will be the one to present Bryant’s induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
In an emotional interview with EPSN’s Jackie McMullan, Jordan spoke of his relationship with his fellow NBA legend and shared the content of their last exchanges, dated December 8, 2019.
“This tequila is awesome,” Kobe texted, in reference to Jordan’s Cincoro Tequila, which he had been gifted a bottle of.
“Thank you, my brother,” Jordan replied.
“Yes, sir. Family good?” Kobe responded.
“All good. Yours?”
The conversation then turns light heartedly to coaching, in reference to Bryant enjoying helping coach his daughter Gianna’s team.
“Happy holidays and hope to catch up soon. Coach Kobe??!” texted Jordan.
“Ah, back at you, man,” Kobe replied.
“Hey, coach, I’m sitting on the bench right now, and we’re blowing this team out. 45-8.”
Bryant’s Hall of Fame nomination came 11 days after this final conversation and 49 days later he was gone from this world.
Jordan explained why he likes looking back on the exchange.
“I just love that text,” Jordan said.
“Because it shows Kobe’s competitive nature.”
Competitiveness was one of several traits the pair shared and it is fitting that someone of Jordan’s stature will present Bryant into the Hall of Fame.
“It’s going to be a great honour, to be honest. It’s like standing up for a family member,” said Jordan.
“He paid me the highest respect by trying to emulate certain things I did.
“And I can only repay that by showing my support and admiration for a guy who I felt was one of the greatest to ever play the game.”
Jordan’s induction speech for Bryant on May 15 is sure to be worth hearing and in the ESPN interview he paid tribute to Kobe’s work rate and determination.
“He was an 18-year-old kid that made himself into one of the best, to me, it was all from hard work and dedication,” Jordan said.
“All the effort he put forth, he should be a great role model for a lot of kids who at 18 may not want to go to college, that may want to play basketball somewhere.
“And he sat on the bench for a long time before he got his chance, people forget that, too, but when he got his shot, he took advantage of it.”