People have been comparing Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as basketball players, but last night, Jordan said they were more than players and adversaries – they were brothers.
“Maybe it surprises people that Kobe and I were very close friends, but we were very close friends,” Jordan told a crowd Monday at the Staples Center during a memorial service honoring Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the other seven victims lost in a helicopter crash in California on Jan. 26. “Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother.”
Jordan recounted the times Bryant would call him in the middle of the night to talk basketball, advice or just life.
“All of us have brothers and sisters – little brothers, little sisters – who for whatever reason always tend to get into your stuff. Your closet, your shoes – everything,” Jordan said. “It was a nuisance, if I can say that word. But that nuisance turned into love over a period of time. Just because of the admiration that they had for you as big brothers, big sisters.”
He added that he was inspired by Bryant, not just because of his love of the game, but for his constant desire to improve.
“No matter where he saw me, it was a challenge,” Jordan said. “And I admire him because his passion… you rarely see someone who’s looking and trying to improve each and every day. Not just in sports but as a parent, as a husband.”
“I’ll have to look at another crying meme for the next …I told my wife I wasn’t going to do this because I didn’t want to see this for the next three or four years,” he said, crying. “But that is what Kobe Bryant does to me. His friends can all say the same thing he knows how to get to you in a way that affects you personally- even if he’s being a pain in the ass.”
Jordan said that “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 said.
Watch him below: