Michael Jordan, who will induct fellow NBA legend Kobe Bryant into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, just revealed his last text message exchanges with the Lakers great before he died in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gianna and seven others.
Some of the messages were pleasantries, according to an ESPN interview with Jordan published Tuesday. Bryant complimented Jordan on his Cincoro Tequila after receiving a sample. They checked up on each other’s families and wished each other happy holidays. But one line from Bryant on that December 2019 day struck Jordan as so quintessentially Kobe.
“He was really into coaching Gigi,” MJ explains, “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.”
Bryant and 13-year-old Gigi (Gianna) were on their way to one of her games on Jan. 26, 2020, when their helicopter went down in Southern California fog.
As chosen by Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, Jordan will present Bryant for his Hall of Fame enshrinement on Saturday.
If the former Chicago Bull’s speech is as emotional as when he mourned the loss of his “little brother” at Bryant’s memorial service in February 2020, the tears will be flowing again.