This weekend’s Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony is likely to be more emotional than most with the induction of the late Kobe Bryant into the pantheon of hoop legends.
Kobe is set to be inducted by Michael Jordan, who recently opened up about their final text exchange. Speaking with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, Jordan recalled the Dec. 8, 2019 text conversation:
“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 smiled, then decided to have a little fun. “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.”
Eleven days following that exchange, Bryant learned he had been officially nominated for the Hall of Fame as a first-ballot entry. Forty-nine days later, he was gone.
“I just love that text,” Jordan says, “because it shows Kobe’s competitive nature.”
He also detailed how Kobe’s widow, Vanessa, approached him about standing up for Bryant at the Hall of Fame ceremony.
“It’s going to be a great honor, to be honest. 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.”
“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 continued. “That’s the humanistic side of me — people tend to forget I do have one.”