NBA legend Kobe Bryant will posthumously be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on May 15 by fellow legend Michael Jordan, who shared a touching last moment between the two of them.
The text exchange happened in December 2019, just one month before Bryant tragically passed away.
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Jordan explained the exchange saying Bryant initiated it to thank him for a bottle of Cincoro Tequila he gifted Bryant. The two then engaged in conversation about how Bryant was a youth basketball coach, which Jordan teased him about.
"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 explained to ESPN.
"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 because it shows Kobe's competitive nature,” Jordan explained to ESPN.
In January 2020, Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were going to a basketball tournament at Mamba Academy in Southern California when they and seven other passengers, were killed in a helicopter crash in the hills near Los Angeles.
Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016 after winning five championships with the Lakers. Following retirement, he began coaching Gianna, and her basketball team, Team Mamba, named after his NBA nickname. He also won an Oscar for his 2018 animated short film Dear Basketball.
Jordan was chosen by Kobe's family to serve as Bryant's Hall of Fame presenter, CBS Sports reported.
In the 2020 acclaimed documentary series, The Last Dance, which chronicles the career of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, Bryant is interviewed about his relationship with the NBA legend and how they stack up against each other.
“He's like my big brother,” Bryant said in an interview in the fifth episode of The Last Dance. “I truly hate having discussions about who would win one-on-one. Or fans saying you beat Michael one-on-one. I feel like, yo, what you get from me is from him. I don’t get five championships here without him. Because he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice.”
During Bryant’s public memorial service at the Staples Center, Jordan spoke and called Bryant his “little brother.”
“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died,” an emotional Jordan said during his February 2020 speech. “I promise you, from this day forward, I will live with the memories of knowing the little brother that I tried to help in every way I could. Please rest in peace, little brother.”
According to Inside Edition, Bryant is one of nine to be part of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020, which will be inducted at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun arena. Bryant will be joined by basketball greats Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, Tamika Catchings, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens and Patrick Baumann.