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Michael Jordan Recalls Final Texts with Kobe Bryant Before Helicopter Crash

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2020, file photo, former NBA player Michael Jordan reacts while speaking during a celebration of life for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in Los Angeles. Jordan is
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The final conversation between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan consisted of three things: tequila, family and, of course, basketball.

Ahead of inducting Bryant into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend, Jordan revealed the contents of his final text-message exchange with Kobe in an interview with Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

"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?"

"All good."

Jordan smiled, then decided to have a little fun. "He was really into coaching Gigi," MJ explains, "so I hit him up about that."

"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."

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Bryant and Jordan shared a friendship that only grew as both aged. Jordan referred to Bryant as his "little brother" at the memorial service held for the Lakers great and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, after both were killed in a January 2020 helicopter crash.

He is set to honor Bryant again this weekend, serving as the inductee for Bryant's Hall of Fame enshrinement. Kobe spent most of his young career modeling his game and his image after Jordan, combining their near-identical size and stature with the type of ruthless competitiveness rarely seen in the modern era. While Bryant is not widely considered the best NBA player of the post-Jordan era, he's certainly the one that draws the most obvious comparisons. 

Their personal relationship, while mostly happening behind the scenes, also grew over the years, with Bryant seeking Jordan's counsel throughout his NBA career on topics both on and off the floor. 

Jordan said Vanessa Bryant asked him to induct Kobe into the Hall of Fame. He said he believes Bryant would have asked himself or Shaquille O'Neal to do the honors if he were still alive.

"It's going to be a great honor, to be honest. It's like standing up for a family member," Jordan said. "He 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."

Bryant retired with five NBA championships, winning two Finals MVPs to go along with 18 All-Star selections and the 2008 NBA MVP. He was the NBA's third-leading scorer upon his retirement before being passed by LeBron James last season. 

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