On Saturday, the late Kobe Bryant will be enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and be inducted by none other than Michael Jordan. But before his speech, Jordan showed ESPN's Jackie MacMullan what his last texts were with Bryant before the deadly helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020, that killed Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and six others.
Jordan, who also spoke at the memorial service for Bryant at the Staples Center following his death, showed ESPN texts from Dec. 8, 2019.
“This tequila is awesome,” Kobe texted, referring to Jordan’s Cincoro Tequila, a bottle of which was sent to Bryant at the launch.
“Thank you, my brother,” Jordan responded.
“Yes, sir. Family good?” Kobe replied.
“All good. Yours?”
Jordan wanted to talk to Bryant about his daughter's basketball team—which he was coaching. “He was really into coaching Gigi,” Jordan said, “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 chuckles.
“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,” Jordan says, “because it shows Kobe’s competitive nature.”
It's well-known that Jordan was like a big brother to Bryant and the two have been close ever since they shared the court together. The 58-year-old and six-time NBA champion knows that he'll get teary-eyed come Saturday—but doesn't much care.
"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," Jordan told ESPN. "That's the humanistic side of me—people tend to forget I do have one."
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