Michael Jordan Reveals Last Text Messages with Kobe Bryant Ahead of Hall of Fame Ceremony
In a new interview with Jackie MacMullan of ESPN, Jordan revealed his final exchange with Bryant, who died in a helicopter accident in Jan. 2020.
"This tequila is awesome," Bryant texted Jordan in early December 2019, referring to the Jordan-owned brand of tequila, Cincoro.
After Jordan thanked Bryant, the two basketball legends then texted about family.
"Yes, sir. Family good?" Bryant asked.
"All good. Yours?" Jordan responded.
"All good," Bryant said back.
According to ESPN, Jordan then changed the subject to Bryant's coaching of his then 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and her basketball team. Gianna died with him in the accident.
"Happy holidays," Jordan wrote to Bryant before adding a laughing emoji, "and hope to catch up soon. Coach Kobe??!"
"Ah, back at you, man," Bryant replied. "Hey, coach, I'm sitting on the bench right now, and we're blowing this team out. 45-8."
Bryant, who was 41 at the time of his death, opened up to PEOPLE in 2018 about how he used coaching as an opportunity to teach his daughters valuable life lessons.
"A valuable lesson that I can teach them is what it means to pursue excellence and the commitment level that comes with that," Bryant said. "At the same time, making things fun and challenging, and learning new things."
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On May 15, Jordan — a six-time NBA champion — will induct Bryant into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Jordan said he believed either he or Shaquille O'Neal (Bryant's former teammate on the Lakers) would be chosen for the honor. Jordan also spoke at Bryant's memorial in Feb. 2020.
But it was made official when Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, asked him to take the lead.
"I told her, 'Look, I know this is a tough time. I'm always here if you need me,'" Jordan recalled to ESPN. "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 continued. "[Bryant] 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."