Jordan, who will induct Bryant into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, shared the messages with ESPN which dated back to December 8, 2019 — 49 days before his death.
In the messages — which Jordan admits he can’t bring himself to delete — Bryant praised Jordan’s Cincoro Tequila, a bottle of which was sent to Bryant at the launch.
“This tequila is awesome,” the former Los Angeles Laker texted.
After enquiring about how coaching his daughter, Gigi, was going, Bryant complained to Jordan — his former mentor and friend — about a game he was at.
“Hey, coach, I’m sitting on the bench right now, and we’re blowing this team out. 45-8.”
And that was Bryant in a nutshell, according to the six-time NBA champion.
“I just love that text,” Jordan told ESPN, “because it shows Kobe’s competitive nature.”
Bryant and Gigi were among nine people killed on January 26, 2020 when a helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California.
Jordan spoke emotionally for more than 11 minutes at Bryant’s memorial in Los Angeles, describing him as a little brother.
“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died, and as I look at this arena and across the globe, a piece of you died,” he said.
“I promise you, from this day forward, I will live with the memories of knowing that I had a little brother that I tried to help in every way I could. Please rest in peace, little brother.”
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Bryant’s family selected Jordan to present him at the May 15 ceremony at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut, according to a statement from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The five-time NBA champion and fourth highest all-time leading scorer in NBA history was elected into the Hall of Fame last April in his first year of eligibility.
The enshrinement ceremony for Bryant and the Hall of Fame Class of 2020, which includes players Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and 10-time WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings, was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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