Michael Jordan Has Disclosed His Final Text Exchange With Kobe Bryant

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Photo credit: VINCENT LAFORET - Getty Images
Photo credit: VINCENT LAFORET - Getty Images


“Hearst Magazines and Verizon Media may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.”

If you've watched any basketball over the past 20 years, you know how linked Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant—whom we lost over a year ago now—will always be. Bryant modeled his game after Jordan. The two battled quite a few times during their careers as the alphas of their respective teams. And they're both known for their next-level competitive streaks, hounding teammates and virtually living in their practice gyms.

But people didn't know exactly how close Jordan and Bryant were until the Lakers great died in a helicopter crash in January 2020, along with his daughter, Gigi, and seven other people. No stranger to loss himself, Jordan gave a powerful speech at Bryant's memorial service, where, to some people's surprise, he called him his little brother. "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, or else you wouldn't be here," he said in February of last year. Now, thanks to ESPN's Jackie MacMullan—who interviewed Jordan before Bryant's Hall of Fame induction—we know what the last conversation between the two men looked like.

In the interview, Jordan takes MacMullan through his last text exchange with Bryant, which took place about a month before his death, around the holiday season. And if it wasn't clear how close the former MVPs were after their playing careers, just look at MacMullan's description of the messages—which show that the two really did think of themselves as brothers.

"This tequila is awesome," Kobe texted, referring to Jordan's Cincoro Tequila, a bottle of which was sent to Bryant when it launched.

"Thank you, my brother," Jordan responded.

"Yes, sir. Family good?" Kobe replied.

"All good. Yours?"

"All good."

Jordan smiled, then decided to have a little fun. "He was really into coaching Gigi," MJ explains, "so I hit him up about that."

"Happy holidays," Jordan texted back, "and hope to catch up soon. Coach Kobe??!"

"I added that little crying/laughing emoji," Jordan chuckles.

"Ah, back at you, man," Kobe wrote. "Hey, coach, I'm sitting on the bench right now, and we're blowing this team out. 45-8."

"I just love that text," Jordan told MacMullan, "because it shows Kobe's competitive nature."

It's beautiful to see Jordan—who says that he still looks at the messages from time to time—give a rare interview to show us another glimpse of the man Bryant was just before we lost him. Clearly, he loved coaching Gigi, and loved to even playfully boast about blowing out the competition. And if there was any doubt that Bryant would be forever remembered in the basketball world, his memorable Hall of Fame induction—which included a physical exhibit designed by his wife, Vanessa Bryant—was another reminder of how much he impacted the game.

"Congratulations, baby," Vanessa Bryant said in her speech at Saturday's ceremony. "All of your hard work and sacrifices paid off. You once told me, 'If you're going to bet on someone, bet on yourself.' I'm glad you bet on yourself, you overachiever. You did it. You're in the Hall of Fame now. You're a true champ. You're not just an MVP, you're an all-time great. I'm so proud of you. I love you forever and always, Kobe 'Bean' Bryant."

Photo credit: Mike Kim
Photo credit: Mike Kim

Join Esquire Select

You Might Also Like