The induction of the late Kobe Bryant into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend marks yet another opportunity to commemorate Bryant, whose life and career have been celebrated enormously since the Los Angeles Lakers legend was killed in a January 2020 helicopter crash. Among those with memories to share is Bryant's Hall of Fame presenter and an NBA icon of his own: Michael Jordan.
Speaking to ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, Jordan shared the contents of the final set of text messages that he and Bryant exchanged in December of 2019. Bryant had texted Jordan thanking him for a bottle of Cincoro Tequila, and then the two exchanged pleasantries before Jordan decided to rib Bryant about his youth basketball-coaching pursuits.
"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 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 said, "because it shows Kobe's competitive nature."
Following his retirement from the NBA in 2016, among the avenues that Bryant had pursued in his post-playing career was serving as the coach of Team Mamba, a girl's basketball team that included his daughter Gianna. Bryant and Gianna had been en route to Mamba Sports Academy on Jan. 26, 2020, when their helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain in Calabasas, California, killing all of its occupants.
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Jordan was chosen by Kobe's family to serve as Bryant's Hall of Fame presenter, marking the second time that Jordan has made a public speech about Bryant since his death. In February of 2020, Jordan had delivered a eulogy for Bryant during his memorial service at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Bryant is one of nine basketball legends who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend as part of the Class of 2020. Bryant will be joined by Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, Tamika Catchings, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, and Patrick Baumann.