Just like the entire basketball fraternity, NBA legend Michael Jordan is still struggling to come to terms with the death of his very good friend and brother, Kobe Bryant. The 41-year-old Los Angeles Lakers superstar alongside eight others including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, passed away in a helicopter crash in Calabasas last year when they were headed to a youth basketball game.
Speaking to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullen, Jordan, 58, admitted he’s still grappling with grief to such an extent that he cannot even muster the strength to delete the final text messages he exchanged with Bryant, TMZ reported. The NBA Hall of Famer revealed their last conversation happened 49 days before the tragic January 26 helicopter crash. And Bryant had messaged him to tell him he loved a tequila bottle he had gifted him. They later spoke about their families and of course, basketball.
“This tequila is awesome,” Jordan recalled Kobe texted about his new tequila. The Chicago Bulls legend said he replied by texting, “Thank you, my brother.”
“Yes, sir. Family good?” Kobe asked.
“All good. Yours?” Jordan said he responded, with Bryant subsequently texting, “All good.”
Jordan added: “Happy holidays, and hope to catch up soon. Coach Kobe??!”
“Ah, back at you, man,” Jordan said Kobe texted. “Hey, coach, I’m sitting on the bench right now, and we’re blowing this team out. 45-8.”
Jordan said the message Kobe sent about his daughter Gianna’s team beating their opponents by a stretch was his favorite text. “I just love that text because it shows Kobe’s competitive nature,” he said, adding: “I don’t know why, but I just can’t delete it.”
Jordan delivered an emotional and teary eulogy during Bryant’s memorial service in February last year. The basketball legend will yet again take the podium on Saturday to present Kobe for his enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Jordan, who was personally selected by Vanessa Bryant, said he’s honored to be inducting the deceased basketball legend and the event will be an emotional one, TMZ reported.
“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.”