Earlier this week, Michael Jordan was one of many to speak at Kobe Bryant‘s memorial. Jordan was one of Bryant’s idols growing up the Laker legend model his entire game after The Chicago Bulls icon right down to the way he walked. Bryant almost joined the same franchise as his idol back in the summer of 2004.
“We were looking at houses, we were looking at schools,” Bryant told the Chicago Tribune in December 2004. “We already were talking about a sign-and-trade.”
Bryant was looking for a change after the Los Angeles Lakers were beaten by the Detriot Pistons in NBA Finals in five games. He and Shaquille O’Neal’s relationship was no longer working on and off the court.
Per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports, President of Basketball Operations for the Chicago Bulls, John Paxson “flew to Newport Beach, California, with Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to pitch Bryant in free agency. [Kobe] Bryant liked what he heard.”
As talks started to heat up between the Bulls and Lakers, Los Angeles struck a deal with the Miami Heat and shipped Shaq to South Beach. There was no way that the Lakers would live down that they traded both Shaq in Kobe in the same summer. Trade talks with the Bulls did not continue and Bryant would decide to resign with the Los Angeles Lakers. It is worth noting the Los Angeles Clippers were also an option for Bryant as well.
When news broke that Bryant had passed away on January 26, 2020, the Chicago Bulls’ organization issued a statement.
“The Chicago Bulls organization is terribly saddened about the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the other passengers in today’s horrific helicopter crash in California,” Paxson said in a statement. “While he leaves us far too soon, his legacy and persona will forever be remembered. One of the best to have ever played the game of basketball, we extend our deepest sympathies to the Bryant family and the other families affected.”
Michael Jordan Revealed When Bryant Died a Piece of Himself Went With him
Jordan opened his speech with the words “Maybe it surprised people that Kobe and I were very close friends, but we were very close friends. Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between [him] and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe,” Jordan stated.
He would continue by sharing that Bryant would call him at all hours of the night.
“He used to call me, text me… 11:30, 2:30, 3:00 in the morning… talking about post-up moves, footwork, and sometimes the triangle. At first, it was an aggravation… but then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had a passion like you would never know. It’s an amazing thing about passion,” Jordan said.
But, their relationship quickly turned into a brotherhood that would have lasted a lifetime.
“And as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.”
Jordan would later sum up what the entire world was thinking.
“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died,” Jordan said.
“And as I look in this arena and across the globe, a piece of you died or else you wouldn’t be here. I will live with the memories of knowing that I had a little brother and I tried to help in every way I could. Rest in peace, little bro.”