Jordan, who was close with Bryant as a friend and a mentor since they first came across each other on the court in 1997, has kept their final text conversation saved on his phone, and says he still looks at it from time to time to remind himself of their friendship.
The exchange took place on December 8, 2019, just over a month before Bryant died along with eight others in a helicopter crash in Calablasas, California.
In the texts the pair briefly caught up and checked in on each other’s families, with Bryant messaging to say he was a fan of Jordan’s recently launched tequila brand, Cincoro Tequila.
Jordan then joked with Bryant about his role a a coach on his daughter Gianna’s basketball team, writing ‘Happy holidays, and hope to catch up soon. Coach Kobe??!’ to which Bryant responded ‘Ah, back at you, man. Hey, coach, I’m sitting on the bench right now, and we’re blowing this team out. 45-8.’
It’s a bittersweet exchange, and speaking to ESPN, Jordan shared how much their last conversation still means to him. ‘He was really into coaching Gigi, so I hit him up about that,’ he explained. ‘I just love that text because it shows Kobe’s competitive nature…I don’t know why, but I just can’t delete it.’
Jordan went on to talk about the emotions of speaking at Bryant’s memorial service, where he broke down in tears while paying tribute to his ‘little brother’, telling the crowd, ‘when Kobe died, a part of me died.’ He also revealed that Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, had asked him personally to induct the former Laker into the Hall of Fame.
He said, It’s going to be a great honor, to be honest. It’s like standing up for a family member. 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.