Kobe Bryant will enter the Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend, and Michael Jordan will be his presenter. But before that happens, Jordan is sharing something extraordinary. Jordan recently spoke to Jackie MacMullan of ESPN and shared the final text message he had with Kobe Bryant before his death in January 2020.
"This tequila is awesome," Kobe texted, referring to Jordan's Cincoro Tequila, a bottle of which was sent to Bryant at the launch. Jordan responded: "Thank you, my brother," which then led to Bryant writing, "Yes, sir. Family good?" Jordan answered, "All good. Yours?" Bryant answered, "All good." The message goes on to reveal that Jordan told Bryant, "Happy Holidays and hope to catch up soon, Coach Kobe?!" while adding crying/lauding emojis. Bryant replied, "Ah, back at you, man. Hey, coach, I'm sitting on the bench right now, and we're blowing this team out. 45-8."
That exchanged happened on Dec. 8, 2019, 11 days before Bryant learned he had been officially nominated for the Hall of Fame as a first-ballot entry. It's also 49 nine days before he tragically died in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people. As the text message mentioned, Bryant was at Gianna's basketball game as he was her team's coach.
"I just love that text," Jordan says, "because it shows Kobe's competitive nature." And that's one of the reasons Jordan and Bryant got along very well. Both players were considered the best in the NBA during the prime of their careers and both at least five NBA championships. "His style of play was identical to mine," Jordan says. "He stayed true to his course, and I respect that."
Bryant will be joined by Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett in the Hall of Fame Class of 2020. "Vanessa asked me once he passed away," Jordan said when talking about who Bryant would choose to induct him into the Hall of Fame. "In all honesty, I knew he probably would. It was either me or Shaq since they won three championships together.
"It's going to be a great honor, to be honest," Jordan continued. "It's like standing up for a family member. 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."