It’s been almost 16 months since Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and six others died in a devastating helicopter crash, but the legacy of the “Black Mamba” continues to live on. Later this week, the former NBA superstar will be posthumously awarded the highest honor the game of basketball could give him.
On May 15, Bryant will be enshrined forever in the Naismith Hall of Fame, alongside the rest of 2020 class. The Los Angeles Lakers legend will be presented by one of the NBA’s other greatest players of all-time: Michael Jordan.
Jordan and Bryant formed a touching friendship during their time together in the league, with the latter often calling Jordan his “big brother.” The two regularly kept in touch and the Bulls legend gave a touching tribute at Bryant’s funeral.
Because of their close relationship, Jordan still holds onto the last text messages that he exchanged with Bryant before his death. Prior to this weekend’s Hall of Fame ceremony, he revealed them to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan.
The final text message, dated Dec. 8, 2019, indicates as much. Kobe sent it to Jordan just after noon, 12:18 p.m. PT.
“This tequila is awesome,” Kobe texted, referring to Jordan’s Cincoro Tequila, a bottle of which was sent to Bryant at the launch.
“Thank you, my brother,” Jordan responded.
“Yes, sir. Family good?” Kobe replied.
“All good. Yours?”
“Happy holidays,” Jordan texted back, “and hope to catch up soon. Coach Kobe??!”
“I added that little crying/laughing emoji,” Jordan chuckles.
“Ah, back at you, man,” Kobe wrote. “Hey, coach, I’m sitting on the bench right now, and we’re blowing this team out. 45-8.”
MJ shared his last few texts with Kobe with Jackie MacMullan.
Kobe always asked about family. How are the kids? How’s the wife? Babies growing up?
It showed how much that part of life was important to him. pic.twitter.com/MCCkMyFPdu
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 11, 2021
Jordan continued by saying that he always loved Kobe’s competitive nature and thought that those final texts perfectly illustrated that side of him. The Bulls great was also remembered for his relentless competitive spirit, which explains why he and Bryant were close.
“Maybe it surprised people that Kobe and I were very close friends,” Jordan said, via ESPN.com. “But we were very close friends. … Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe.”
Michael Jordan will present Kobe Bryant at the class of 2020 Naismith Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday, May 15.