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Inside Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan’s private friendship

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Jordan would call Bryant his “little brother,” Bryant would call Jordan his “big brother,” and they’d praise each other’s work ethic and accomplishments. But rarely would either volunteer much more, each man knowing all too well that any glimpse would invite the kind of comparisons and debate they loathed.

Only a few people had a sense of just how close Jordan and Bryant had become.

“If you just watched them interact in a game, Kobe always was like a magnet going toward Michael,” said former Los Angeles Lakers general manager Jerry West. “Usually Michael didn’t really interact with a lot of players when he was on the court. He’d just play. But for some reason, he had this affinity for him.”

West was close enough to both men to know that Bryant would text and call Jordan at all hours of the night. He knew they met for lunches and dinners — but not golf, because hell no, Bryant didn’t golf — when Jordan was in Los Angeles.

So when West and Jordan met for dinner at Craig’s on Melrose on Feb. 23, the night before Bryant’s public memorial, West watched Jordan carefully, making sure he was supporting his friend as he grieved.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“We talked a little bit about [Bryant],” West said. “But nothing that I think would predict what he was going to say.”

Jordan had been working on his eulogy for a couple of weeks, trying to capture who Bryant was and how their relationship had evolved from a beautiful mentorship into one of Jordan’s most cherished friendships.6

Those who knew Jordan well knew he would cry as soon as he stepped to the podium.

“Michael is going to say the right things,” West said. “He does have a soul. Most people have placed him in such a higher place in life, they don’t think he has this side of him.

The tears were streaming down his face.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I,” Jordan continued. “I just wanted to talk about Kobe.”

The relationship began, Jordan said, with Bryant as an annoying little brother, who “for whatever reason, always tends to get in your stuff. Your closet, your shoes, everything. It was a nuisance, if I can say that word. But that nuisance turned into love over a period of time.”

Bryant wanted “to know every little detail about the life [he was] about to embark on,” Jordan said. They’d talk basketball at first: post-up moves, footwork, the triangle offense. And Bryant was a sponge.

He’d soak up whatever Jordan would give him. Work on it. Master it. Then come back asking for more.

“He used to call me, text me 11:30, 2:30, 3 in the morning,” Jordan said. “At first, it was an aggravation, but then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like you would never know.”

Jordan never stopped to dry his tears during the 10-minute speech. He made a joke about creating new fodder for another “crying Jordan” meme but didn’t try to hide his emotions.

It was raw and revealing. And by the end, it was clear he had learned just as much from Bryant as Bryant had learned from him.

“To see this side of him,” West said. “It was very revealing, and very touching.”

For those who had only seen what little Bryant and Jordan had shown the world of their relationship, it was fascinating.

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