NBA legend Michael Jordan pays poignant tribute to Kobe Bryant at memorial service
NBA hero Michael Jordan gave an emotional speech about the late Kobe Bryant at a ceremony in Los Angeles celebrating his and his daughter Gianna's lives.
LA Lakers' legend Bryant and the 13-year-old Gianna tragically died along with seven others when their helicopter crashed outside the city of Calabalas in January.
Jordan and Bryant were known to be close, and speaking inside the Lakers' Staples Centre the ex-Chicago Bulls player spoke warmly about his friend.
"He was like a little brother," Jordan said. "You know all of us have brothers, little brothers, little sisters, that for whatever reason tend to get in your stuff, your closets, your shoes, everything ... it was a nuisance, if I can use that word.
"But that nuisance turned into love over a period of time, just because of the admiration they had for you, as big brothers, big sisters. The questions, the wanting to know every little detail about life they were about to embark on ... he used to call me, text me, 11:30, 2:30, 3:30 in the morning, talking about post-up moves, footwork, and sometimes, the triangle (offense). At first, it was an aggravation.
"But then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had a passion like you would never know. ... What Kobe Bryant was for me was the inspiration that someone truly cared about the way I played the game or the way that 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 or the dumb questions. I took great pride as I got to know Kobe Bryant that he was just trying to be a better person, 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.
"I told my wife I wasn’t 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. He knows how to get to you in a way that effects you personally, even if he’s being a pain in the ass. He can bring out the best in you, and he did that for me."
Kobe’s former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal, with whom he won a number of NBA Finals, offered up his own anecdote to a packed Staples Center.
Shaq opened up on an occasion where he lambasted Bryant, yelling “Kobe, there’s no ‘I' in team.”
The response fired back from his teammate: "There's a 'm-e' in that *********.”
Earlier in the night, Vanessa Bryant had paid her own emotional tribute, labelling Kobe "The MVP of girl dads”.
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