On Monday, the Staples Center in Los Angeles was full of mourners to honor Kobe Bryant and his 13-year old daughter Gianna as they both died in a helicopter crash along with seven other victims nearly one month ago. A number of notable figures spoke to the fans to pay tribute to Bryant including what many have deemed to be the best basketball player of all-time, Michael Jordan. The Chicago Bulls legend got a standing ovation when his name was announced and once he started speaking, tears rolled down his eyes.
"I'm grateful to Vanessa and the Bryant family for the opportunity to speak today," Jordan said. "I'm grateful to be here to honor Gigi and celebrate the gift that Kobe gave us all.
"In the game of basketball, in life, as a parent, Kobe left nothing in the tank. He left it all on the floor. Maybe it surprised people that Kobe and I were very close friends, but we were very close friends. Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe."
Michael Jordan loved Kobe Bryant like a little brotherFebruary 24, 2020
Jordan said Bryant was a little brother to him that would be annoying. But when Jordan noticed how much Bryant wanted to be the best basketball player in the world, they became close.
"You know all of us have brothers and sisters who for whatever reason always tend to get in your stuff, your closet, your shoes, everything," he said. It was a nuisance if I can say that word. But that nuisance turned into love over a period of time just because the admiration that they had for you as big brothers or big sisters. The questions - they're wanting to know every little detail about the life they're about to embark on.
"He used to call me, text, me, 11:30, 12:30, 2:30, 3:00 in the morning talking about post moves, footwork, and sometimes the triangle," Jordan added. At first, it was an aggravation. But then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like you would never know. It's an amazing thing about passion. If you love something, if you have a strong passion for something, you would go to the extreme to try to get it.
Combined, Jordan and Bryant won 11 NBA titles and they are in the top 15 in the all-time leaders for points scored in the single game, Bryant is second as he scored 81 points in a 2006 game. Jordan is in 12th place after scoring 69 points in a 1990 contest.
"What Kobe Bryant was to me was the inspiration that someone truly cared about the way I play the game or the way that he wanted to play the game." Jordan stated. "He wanted to be the best basketball player he could be. As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be."