This season, NBA teams have paid tribute to Kobe Bryant as a send-off to his final time playing in their arenas. However, on Monday (Dec. 28), the Charlotte Hornets aired a special tribute to the NBA icon.
Instead of playing highlights from Kobe’s career, the Time Warner Cable Arena aired a video message from Michael Jordan, the team’s owner who wasn’t in town for the game.
“Kobe, MJ. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there tonight,” Jordan began. “I just want to congratulate you on an unbelievable career. I think, when I look back, and the first time we actually played against each other, and the competitive drive that I saw within your eyes … is very invigorating. And I’m very happy to leave you this message to say how much we are very proud of what you’ve accomplished over the years.
“Most people don’t realize you were drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, so that connects us with you. I’ve always been like a big brother to you, [and you’re] like a little brother. We communicate all the time. I just want to say congratulations. Your next step in your next career is going to be something that I’m pretty sure you’re going to have to figure out. From a competitive standpoint, I’m pretty sure you’re just like me. You’re going to have to find other ways to utilize that competitive drive.
“But I want to congratulate you and Vanessa and the girls. You’ve been a big help to the game of basketball. You’ve helped the NBA. You’ve helped promote it. I’m pretty sure you’ve got a lot of fans all over the world. I am a big fan. I still love watching you play. I’m very, very happy for you and what you’ve accomplished within the game. And I look forward to seeing what you do next.
“If you ever need me, you know my number. Let’s stay in touch. I wish you the best, and have a great game tonight — not too good of a game. But I want you to stay healthy. As I said a couple weeks ago, this is your last year. Just have fun. Take it a day at a time. Enjoy it. And I look forward to seeing what you do after this. Take care. Good luck.”
After the game, in which Kobe scored 20 points in the Lakers’ 108-98 loss, Bryant said he spoke to Jordan before the game… and knew the video was coming.
“It was awesome. It was awesome,” Bryant said, according to ESPN. “He and I — as he said in the video — we talk pretty often. But it was pretty funny to see some of the reactions of my teammates. I was sitting next to Julius Randle before the game. He was like, ‘Yo, that’s amazing!’ I was like, ‘What?’ [He said] ‘That was Michael Jordan!'”
When asked if he’d follow in Jordan’s footsteps in owning an NBA franchise… Kobe says he had no interest. “No, he and I differ entirely when it comes to that,” he said. “He’s a mathematician. He loves math. He loves numbers, loves dealing with numbers. I don’t. I could care less. I suck at math. So from that perspective, I’m not going to be looking at cap numbers and all that other stuff. I just have no interest in it.”