Michael Jordan was Kobe Bryant’s idol. Micahel Jordan was everything that Kobe Bryant wanted to be, and he modeled his entire game after His Airness. Kobe became arguably the closest to Michael Jordan that the world has ever seen. Kobe even got to play against his hero in the NBA and developed a friendship with his mentor. But on Sunday, it was Jordan singing the praises of Kobe Bryant after the Lakers legend passed away.
Nine people, including Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, longtime Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli, his daughter Alyssa Altobelli, his wife Keri Altobelli, and the coach’s brother Tony Altobelli, died in a helicopter crash in Orange County, California. Shortly before 10 a.m. PT, the helicopter crashed to the ground in the hills of Calabasas.
Michael Jordan, who is chairman of the Charlotte Hornets, eulogized Kobe by issuing a statement where he said he loved Bryant and saw him as a “little brother.”
“I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing,” Jordan said in a statement on Sunday. “Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe – he was like a little brother to me.”
“We used to talk often and I will miss those conversations very much,” MJ continued. “He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force.”
“Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply – and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball,” Jordan said in his tribute to Kobe and his family. “Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world.”
Earvin Magic Johnson also paid tribute to Kobe in a series of tweets. Johnson called Kobe a “friend” and the “greatest Laker of all-time.” Johnson called Kobe an “icon” who helped the homeless and was a supporter of women’s basketball. “Cookie & I are praying for Vanessa, his beautiful daughters Natalia, Bianka & Capri, as well as his parents Joe & Pam & his sisters,” Johnson wrote in a tweet honoring Bryant.
During his 20-year NBA career, Kobe Bryant was an 18-time All-Star who led the Lakers to five NBA championships, and scored 33,643 points, which is fourth all-time one spot ahead of Michael Jordan.
You can read dozens of tributes to Kobe Bryant from the sports world and celebrities, including Dwayne Wade, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Tom Brady, the Wu-Tang Clan, and more HERE.