Michael Jordan gives an emotional speech of Kobe Bryant at The Celebration of Life memorial ceremony in Los Angeles
At the memorial ceremony “The Celebration of Life” for the NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday, Michael Jordan stepped on a stage and gave an emotional speech telling everybody that he and Kobe were close friends.
“Maybe it surprises people that Kobe and I were very close friends,” he said. “We were very close friends.”
Jordan called Bryant a little brother explaining the relationships between two basketball giants who always wanted to be the best at what they had passion for.
“What Kobe Bryant was to me was an inspiration that someone truly cared about the way I played the game or the way he wanted to play the game,” Jordan said. “He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be, and as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be."
Jordan, whose presence at the public spotlights is a rare phenomenon, didn’t try to hide his emotions during his speech and almost didn’t mop tears from his face.
“Now he’s got me,” Jordan continued with a slight of a joke to clear the air, “I have to look at another crying meme for the next three or four years.”
Jordan reminisced how their friendship with Bryant was becoming greater with the years. Bryant always knew where he wanted to go with his basketball player career and he knew that Jordan could help him in that. Jordan recalled how Bryant used to call or text him in the early morning to discuss the playing, sometimes even annoying Jordan.
“He used to call me, text me 11:30, 2:30, 3 o’clock in the morning, talking about post-up moves, footwork and sometimes the triangle,” Jordan said to laughter, describing Bryant's effort to master the finer points of Phil Jackson’s famous offense that facilitated Jordan’s success and eventually led to Bryant’s.
“At first, it was an aggravation,” Jordan said. “Then, it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like you would never know.”
As Jordan explained in his 11-minute remembrance, they shared a bond and had an inextricable link in the history of the NBA – high-flying guards who were determined to dominate the opponent with their scoring and mental edge.
“I admired him because of his passion – you rarely see someone who is looking and trying to improve each and every day, not just in sports but as a parent, as a husband. I am inspired by what he’s done and what he’s shared with Vanessa and what he’s shared with his kids.
At the near conclusion of his speech Jordan applied to Kobe’s wife Vanessa promising that he and his wife would keep them close in their hearts and prayers, adding “we’ll always be here for you.”
“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died,” Jordan said.
Jordan ended his speech saying directly to Kobe Bryant: “Please, rest in peace, little bro.”