Michael Jordan will be in charge of introducing Kobe Bryant to the Hall of Fame this weekend. The Chicago Bulls legend was offered the big honor and he didn't hesitate to accept it.
It won't be an easy job with all the memories Kobe left, how close he was to Jordan and how emotional people will be when MJ takes the stage to talk about the Los Angeles Lakers icon.
Talking with ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, Jordan shared how Vanessa Bryant asked him to introduce Kobe to the hall of the immortals, and he didn't think twice.
Bryant's induction into the Hall of Fame, along with a star-studded group of peers that includes Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, became official last April 4. He never had the opportunity to place a call to Michael Jordan to see if he would present him. "Vanessa asked me once he passed away," Jordan explains. "In all honesty, I knew he probably would. It was either me or Shaq, since they won three championships together.
Jordan says about six months ago he sent Vanessa a text to check in on her.
"I told her, 'Look, I know this is a tough time. I'm always here if you need me,'" Jordan says. "She answered back, 'I would love it if you stood up for Kobe at the Hall of Fame.'"
"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."
Knowing the great relationship between these two legends, Jordan was the right man for this job. As he said, Shaq would have been perfect for this, too, but MJ was a mentor, a friend of Kobe and their bond was profound.
He realized that Kobe was tough when people started criticizing him for trying to emulate His Airness, but that didn't affect the Black Mamba.
"He was a mentally tough kid, maybe even tougher than I was," Jordan says. "Remember, the people who followed me, my fans, didn't like that he was trying to copy what I had done."
Bryant went to win 5 NBA championships, one MVP award, four All-Star Game MVPs, and many more accolades in one of the best careers in NBA history. He tried to emulate and surpass him. Even though he couldn't do it, Kobe created his own story and legacy, being the idol of many people around the world, leaving a huge mark on the game.
The 2021 Hall of Fame ceremony will be held this Saturday, May 15, and fans expect the 6-time NBA champion to have a touching, heartfelt speech like the one he had during Kobe's memorial service.