From one legend to another, Michael Jordan will do the honors of presenting Kobe Bryant at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on May 15.
The late Kobe Bryant is set to receive one of basketball’s highest honors, and who better to present him than one of the greatest (arguably, the greatest) to ever play the game?
It’s no secret that Michael Jordan and Bryant have an undeniable off-court relationship. Bryant had always idolized the six-time NBA champion and modeled much of his own game after Jordan’s, imitating his likeness in everything from his jump shot to his fadeaways.
The two basketball superstars faced each other eight times, and their last matchup was in 2003. A 24-year-old Bryant dropped 55 points against a 39-year-old Jordan, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Washington Wizards 108-94. Jordan would go on to retire for the third and final time that season, and many believe he passed the torch on to the deserving “Black Mamba” heir.
But most of all, Bryant viewed Jordan as a friend and mentor, as apparent in Bryant’s interview in ESPN’s The Last Dance documentary.
A tale of two icons: Michael Jordan will induct Kobe Bryant into the Hall of Fame
Bryant credited Jordan for being such a huge influence in helping Bryant early in his career and ultimately win five championships:
“Nobody was really thinking much of me, I was a kid that shot a bunch of air balls, you know what I mean? And at that point, Michael provided a lot of guidance for me … but on top of that, he said, ‘If you ever need anything, give me a call.’ That’s like my big brother.”
Following Bryant’s tragic death, Jordan was as shocked and distraught as the rest of the sports world. In an emotional eulogy at Bryant’s memorial service at the Staples Center, Jordan reaffirmed their close bond to the thousands in attendance:
“When Kobe died, a little piece of me died …. This kid had passion like you would never know. As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.”
The Hall of Fame ceremony is bound to bring tears to even the most stoic of basketball fans as Jordan honors a legend who will never be forgotten.