On Saturday, Kobe Bryant was officially inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. His wife, Vanessa Bryant, was joined onstage by Michael Jordan as she accepted the induction of her late husband in an emotional speech.
“I used to always avoid praising my husband in public because I felt like he got enough praise from his fans around the world, and someone had to bring him back to reality,” she began.
“Right now, I’m sure he’s laughing in heaven because I’m about to praise him in public for his accomplishments on one of the most public stages,” she continued. “I can see him now, arms folded, with a huge grin, saying, ‘Isn’t this some shit?” Watch her full speech below.
In her speech, Byrant revealed that "Last February, I called Michael and asked if he would introduce Kobe tonight and he graciously accepted.” Addressing Jordan she said, “ Thank you for being here, Michael. Kobe admired you, this means so much to us."
The connection between Jordan and Bryant had always been a special one. Bryant admittedly spent most of his early career trying to mimic (and out-do) Jordan. In 2017, when the Bleacher Report asked Kobe if his moves were inspired by Jordan, his response was: “Damn near 100 percent.”
However, for Jordan, their bond carried on off the court, which was evident when he gave an emotional speech at Bryant’s L.A. memorial last year, when he revealed, "When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died." As Bryant took Michael Jordan’s hand and walked down from the stage, the crowd chanted “Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!”
The induction ceremony, which took place at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., was supposed to have been held last year but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, Tamika Catchings, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens and Patrick Baumann were also inducted into the The Class of 2020. Kobe Bryant was the only posthumous inductee.
The 18-time N.B.A. All-Star and five-time champion died in a tragic helicopter crash alongside his daughter Gianna and seven others in January 2020. The latest honor afforded friends and fans another opportunity to celebrate Bryant and his legacy, taking to social media to share their support for the new Hall of Famer.