Michael Jordan is going to be inducting the late Kobe Bryant into the 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame announced Thursday that Jordan will be honoring the former Laker as he presents him for the next class of hall of famers. Bryant is among the nine honorees being inducted into the Hall of Fame on May 15. The ceremony was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a press release, the NBA star's family made the decision to have Jordan present him for one of basketball's highest honors.
"Members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 were asked to select previous inductees to accompany and present them to their peers. The choice is solely the decision of the incoming Hall of Famers, or their family members if recognized posthumously," the statement read.
In Feb. 2020, Jordan tearfully paid tribute to Bryant at his memorial at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. He spoke about his relationship with him, noting that Bryant was like a little brother to him.
"Maybe it surprises people that Kobe and I were close friends, but we were very close friends," he continued. "Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I, but I just wanted to talk about Kobe."
He described their unique relationship, sharing that Bryant would text him at sometimes odd hours in the night about basketball.
"At first it was an aggravation, but then it turned to a certain passion," he said with a laugh. "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 to understand or to try to get it. Either ice cream, cokes, hamburgers, if you have to walk -- you would go get it. If you have to beg someone, you would go get it. What Kobe Bryant was to me is the inspiration that someone truly cared about either the way I played the game or the way he wanted to play the game. 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."
"To do that, you had to put up with the aggravation, the late night calls, and all of the dumb questions," he continued. "I took great pride as I got to know Kobe Bryant that he was just trying to be a better person and a better basketball player. We talked about business, we talked about family, we talked about everything and he was just trying to be a better person."
Jordan also made a joke about his tears, cracking, "Now he's got me -- I'm going to have to look at another crying meme for the next ... I told my wife that I wasn't going to do this because I didn't want to see this for the next three or four years. That is what Kobe Bryant does to me."