Michael Jordan Will Honor Kobe Bryant at Basketball Hall of Fame Ceremony
Michael Jordan will honor the late Kobe Bryant at the upcoming 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony.
Bryant — who died in a tragic helicopter crash alongside his daughter Gianna and seven others in January 2020 — is among the nine honorees being inducted into the Hall of Fame on May 15 after the ceremony was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 were asked to select previous inductees to accompany and present them to their peers," the Hall of Fame said in a press release Thursday.
"The choice is solely the decision of the incoming Hall of Famers, or their family members if recognized posthumously."
Jordan and Bryant's friendship spanned decades. Both Jordan — who retired in 2003 — and Bryant have long been considered two of the most accomplished players to ever pick up a basketball.
Jordan, 58, was among the mourners to pay tribute to his late friend at the powerful Staples Center memorial for the athlete last year.
"It may be a surprise to people that Kobe and I were very close friends," the NBA star said at the memorial. "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 noted that Bryant, 41, wanted "to be the best basketball player that he could be."
And that had an effect on Jordan, he told the emotional crowd.
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"As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be," he recalled, then joking, "To do that, you had to put up with the aggravation, the late-night calls or the dumb questions."
"I took great pride as I got to know Kobe Bryant, that he was just trying to be a better person … we talked about business, we talked about family, we talked about everything, he was just trying to be a better person."
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Concluding his emotional speech, Jordan told the crowd, "When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died … those are the memories that we have to live with and we learn from."
"I promise you from this day forward, I will live with the memories of knowing I had a little brother that I tried to help in every way I could."