Not only did Bryant earn Jordan’s respect, but they became brothers.
As most expected Jordan to speak at Bryant’s Naismith Basketball Memorial Basketball Hall Of Fame induction, the Jan. 26 tragedy changed everything.
At ‘A Celebration Of Life For Kobe And Gianna Bryant,’ the 57 year old remembered his ‘little brother’ and addressed the comparisons.
“Maybe it surprised people that Kobe and I were very close friends, but we were very close friends. Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe,” Jordan started his emotional speech.
While most knew about the relationship, Jordan went into detail about Bryant’s early morning calls that were initially an ‘aggravation’ to him.
“He used to call me, text me… 11:30, 2:30, 3:00 in the morning… talking about post-up moves, footwork, and sometimes the triangle. At first, it was an aggravation… but then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like you would never know. It’s an amazing thing about passion,” Jordan said.
However, it quickly turned into Jordan wanting to be the best big brother.
“And as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.”
During Jordan’s emotional speech about his little brother, he was still able to make some jokes — including the infamous ‘Crying Jordan’ meme.
“Now he’s got me and I’ll have to look at another crying meme for the next…
I told my wife I wasn’t gonna do this because I didn’t want to see that for the next three or four years. That is what Kobe Bryant does to me,” Jordan said.
Along with Vanessa Bryant’s powerful words about her husband and daughter Gianna Bryant, Jordan summed up how the world feels about his brother.
“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died,” Jordan said.
“And as I look in this arena and across the globe, a piece of you died or else you wouldn’t be here … I will live with the memories of knowing that I had a little brother and I tried to help in every way I could. Rest in peace, little bro.”