The time has finally come for Kobe Bryant to enter the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with the ceremony set to take place this Saturday. Of course, it was only right that Michael Jordan would be tasked with giving the bittersweet induction speech.
Jordan started out as the inspiration for Bryant to model his game after growing up until his idol eventually became a rival in the NBA. The relationship between the pair eventually transcended off the court as he became a mentor and friend to the Los Angeles Lakers legend.
Jordan openly grieved with the rest of the world when he spoke at Bryant’s memorial service last February. The memories he shared with his ‘little brother” made it evident that their friendship had become much more than just basketball. Jordan will now take the stage once again to help enshrine Bryant’s basketball legacy into the Hall of Fame.
While he was initially nervous to speak, he has no problem showing true affection for his dear friend, according to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullen:
“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 says. “That’s the humanistic side of me — people tend to forget I do have one.”
Jordan revealed that Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, had asked him to do the honors:
“Vanessa asked me once he passed away,” Jordan explains. “In all honesty, I knew he probably would. It was either me or Shaq, since they won three championships together.”
Jordan says about six months ago he sent Vanessa a text to check in on her.
“I told her, ‘Look, I know this is a tough time. I’m always here if you need me,'” Jordan says. “She answered back, ‘I would love it if you stood up for Kobe at the Hall of Fame.’ “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.”
Bryant and Jordan are often regarded as the two fiercest competitors in NBA history. It was this mentality that nearly made one synonymous with the other when it came to player comparisons.
There are few people in NBA history that went through the kind of trials and tribulations Bryant endured during a remarkable career that has now culminated with his induction. Jordan will now be the one to help put it in perspective from his own point of view.
Vanessa to also speak
In addition to Jordan giving a speech to present Bryant, Shams Charania of The Athletic also reported that Vanessa will say some words as well:
Vanessa Bryant will speak in honor of Kobe Bryant during Kobe’s Naismith Hall of Fame @Hoophall induction on Saturday. Presenters accompany inductees as they deliver their speeches. Michael Jordan will join Vanessa Bryant on stage.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 12, 2021
Vanessa displayed her immense strength at Kobe’s memorial service at Staples Center with an outstanding speech, so there is no doubt that she will be up for the task once again at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
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