Saturday will be a very emotional day for the basketball community, as Michael Jordan will present Kobe Bryant at the Naismith Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The Los Angeles Lakers icon passed away in a helicopter crash in 2020, a devastating tragedy that still doesn’t seem real to this day.
Jordan spoke at Bryant’s public memorial at Staples Center and gave a moving speech. He cried since Bryant was his “little brother.”
When he was asked to speak at Bryant’s Hall of Fame induction, Jordan had some concerns about how he would maintain his composure. However, he realized he wouldn’t be nervous since he’ll be honoring someone he loved.
Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were close
Jordan and Bryant had a very close relationship. The Chicago Bulls legend was essentially a “big brother” to the Lakers great and helped him in basketball and life.
Their relationship began during a game at the United Center when Bryant asked Jordan how to shoot his legendary fadeaway jumper. Jordan not only gave Bryant advice on his jump shot, but he said if the youngster ever needed anything, he would be there for him.
Jordan appreciated the passion Bryant played with, which is why he gave him his phone number. When that moment took place, Tim Grover — who trained both superstars — knew their dynamic was special.
“You had to earn the right to have that conversation,” Grover said, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. “So with Kobe, Michael would have not taken the next call if he didn’t see something in him.”
In episode 5 of the Last Dance docuseries, Bryant said he wouldn’t have won five championships without Jordan’s guidance. He also mentioned he hated when fans would say he could beat MJ in his prime. The Black Mamba told director Jason Hehir, “What you get from me is from him.”
Jordan had tears in his eyes for his entire speech at Bryant’s memorial. That will likely be the case at the Hall of Fame induction on Saturday, and the six-time champion isn’t afraid to show his emotions again.
Michael Jordan won’t be nervous about showing emotions for Kobe Bryant
In an interview with Jackie MacMullan of ESPN, Jordan admitted he had some concerns about maintaining his composure during Bryant’s induction ceremony. However, his apprehension didn’t last long.
“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.”
Many tears will be shed during Jordan’s speech. Bryant is the closest player we may ever get to MJ, and he was doing so many great things in retirement.
Knowing Jordan, he will likely tell some funny stories about Bryant to lighten the mood slightly. He did that at the public memorial and had the Staples Center crowd laughing.
His Airness and the Black Mamba are the two best shooting guards ever
Jordan and Bryant, who won a combined 11 championships, eight Finals MVPs, and 12 scoring titles, are the two best shooting guards in NBA history. Bryant mirrored his game after Jordan’s and had the same competitive drive.
With the Bulls and Washington Wizards, Jordan averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists. Along with his six rings and six Finals MVPs, he won five regular-season MVPs and one Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Meanwhile, Bryant spent his entire career with the Lakers. He averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. The 18-time All-Star also won the 2007-08 MVP Award.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.