Michael Jordan will honor the late Kobe Bryant on one of basketball’s highest stages — the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
On Thursday, the Basketball Hall of Fame announced the list of Hall of Famers scheduled to present the class of 2020 at the enshrinement ceremony on May 15, with Jordan selected to induct his longtime friend Bryant. The 2020 ceremony, originally scheduled for August of last year, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. on Jan. 26, 2020 — that also killed seven others. The NBA icon spent his 20-year career with the Lakers after being selected by the Hornets with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 draft. Bryant went on to become an 18-time NBA All-Star and five-time NBA champion, retiring after the 2015-16 season.
Jordan also gave an emotional eulogy at Bryant’s memorial at Staples Center in Los Angeles in February 2020 — nearly one month after his death.
The Chicago Bulls legend cried through his speech, which reminisced on his close friendship with Bryant.
“Kobe was my dear friend, he was like a little brother,” Jordan told the thousands in attendance at the memorial, including Bryant’s former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal, among other NBA greats.
“When Kobe died, a little piece of me died,” Jordan said.
Bryant, who modeled part of his game after Jordan, faced Jordan eight times in his career. The duo’s last matchup was in 2003, when Bryant scored 55 points against Jordan, who would go on to retire for the third and final time at the end of that season.
Fellow members of the Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 — which includes, Tim Duncan, Patrick Baumann, Kevin Garnett, Tamika Catchings and others — were asked to select previous inductees to accompany and present them to their peers. The choice is solely the decision of the incoming Hall of Famers, or their family members if recognized posthumously, per the NBA.
Jordan, a 2009 inductee, will also serve as the presenter for Baylor coach Kim Mulkey. Other big name presenters include David Robinson, inducting former Spurs teammate Duncan, and Isiah Thomas, who will help usher in Garnett.
The ceremony will be held at Mohegan Sun Arena, where more than 50 Hall of Famers are expected to be in attendance, including all presenters.
It’s unclear if Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, and their kids, Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and Capri, who turns 2 in June, will attend.