Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time, delivered one of the most raw and powerful speeches at Kobe Bryant’s public memorial on Monday. He also evoked the most laughter.
After fondly telling stories about his “little brother” Bryant, a visibly upset Jordan joked about his wildly popular Internet meme.
“Now I’ll have to look at another crying meme for years,” he quipped, wiping away tears. “I told my wife I was not going to do this because I didn’t want to see that for the next three or four years. That is what Kobe Bryant does to me.”
Bryant was compared to Jordan throughout his NBA career and often sought advice from the Chicago Bulls superstar.
“He used to call me, text me 11:30, 2:30, 3:00 in the morning,” Jordan recalled. “Talking about post-up moves, footwork, and sometimes the triangle. At first it was an aggravation, but then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like you would never know.And it’s an amazing thing about passion. If you love something, if you have a strong passion for something, you would go to the extreme to try and understand or try to get it.”
Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in helicopter crash on Jan. 26. A few months prior, according to Jordan, re received a text from Bryant. (He said) ‘I am trying to teach my daughter some moves, and I don’t know what I was thinking or what I was working on but what were you thinking about when you were growing up trying to work on your moves?’ I said, what age? He said, ’12.’ I said, ’12, I was trying to play baseball.’ (laughs) He texted me back, ‘Laughing my ass off.’”
After paying homage to Bryant as a basketball player, a student of the game and a doting “girl dad,” Jordan said in closing, “When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died. And as I look in this arena and across the globe, a piece of you died.” He added: “I promise you from this day forward I will live with the memories knowing that I had a little brother that I tried to help in every way I could. Please, rest in peace, little brother.
Watch the full speech below:
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