While many people often say that Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player to ever play, one player emulated him almost perfectly — Kobe Bryant. From Bryant’s moves, to his relentless competitiveness, it was almost like we were watching Michael Jordan in someone else’s body during Bryant’s career. The similarities between their games led to the two of them developing a close relationship, too.
Now, with Bryant sadly gone, we recently learned that Michael Jordan will present Kobe Bryant at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony next month. This move led to an emotional response from a famous sports personality — ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
Michael Jordan will present Kobe Bryant at the Hall of Fame
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame recently announced who will present the 2020 class at the induction ceremony next month. The hall ultimately revealed that Michael Jordan will be the one presenting Kobe Bryant, who tragically died in January 2020, as well as Baylor women’s head basketball coach Kim Mulkey.
According to Sports Illustrated, members of the 2020 class chose which Hall of Famers they wanted to present them on May 15. For Bryant and any other posthumous selections, though, the inductee’s family members get to choose.
The selection of Michael Jordan for Kobe Bryant almost makes too much sense. Bryant even told Complex Magazine in 2017 that he wanted either Jordan or Phil Jackson to present him.
“They’ve been the greatest mentors, not only in my career as an athlete, but also as a person,” Bryant said, per Complex.
Other notable 2020 inductees include Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and Tamika Catchings.
Stephen A. Smith gives an emotional response to the news
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith recently appeared on his show, First Take, and he gave an emotional response to the news of Michael Jordan honoring Kobe Bryant.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Smith said on the April 16 episode. “Knowing Kobe, Kobe was going to ask him to present him anyway. So, it’s more than apropos that with Kobe now gone that whether it was Vanessa [Bryant], and I have no doubt that it probably was her, or somebody else contributing to it that Michael Jordan was going to be the presenter.”
Smith also highlighted how Kobe Bryant not only tried to emulate Michael Jordan, but he even wanted to “eclipse” Jordan’s accomplishments.
“He idolized this man and what he represented to the game of basketball and beyond in so many ways,” he said. “Kobe’s whole thing was ‘whoever’s the best; I want them.’”
Smith then continued to discuss Bryant’s greatness and how tragic it is that he is gone.
“He was one of the most brilliant, brilliant brothers that I had ever known, that I had ever met,” Smith said. “… It’s just incredibly, incredibly sad that we’re sitting here in the year 2021, and Kobe Bryant is gone; gone because of a helicopter accident. It’s just devastating. And being out here in LA, you still feel the ripple effects of Kobe’s absence. Knowing that he’s gone, something just doesn’t feel right; something just doesn’t seem right.”
It’s certainly a tragic situation. One thing is for sure, though, and that is that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were two of the most legendary players in NBA history.
Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant had legendary NBA careers
When discussing the greatest basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are always in the conversation. Jordan was a 14-time All-Star, a five-time NBA MVP, won the 1987-88 Defensive Player of the Year award, and he was a six-time NBA champion/Finals MVP. Jordan also finished with 32,292 career points, which is fifth all-time, and his 30.1 career points per game average is No. 1.
Bryant, on the other hand, earned 18 All-Star selections and won the MVP award in 2007-08. He also won five NBA championships and earned two NBA Finals MVPs. Bryant finished with 33,643 career points, which is fourth all-time, and he averaged 25 career points per game.
Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were two of the greatest players to ever play. Jordan presenting Bryant at the Hall of Fame is absolutely perfect.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference