In front of a full house, a very emotional Jordan (more on that in a sec) made clear his respect for Bryant, whom he referred to throughout his tribute as his "brother."
It didn't take long for Jordan to break into tears as he did so within the first few seconds of his time onstage. "In the game of basketball, in life, as a parent, Kobe left nothing in the tank," Jordan began. "He left it all on the floor."
He said he and Kobe were "very close friends," which he thought many might find surprising, and that Bryant was "like a little brother." Jordan said people often wanted to talk about the comparisons between the two, but that he "just wanted to talk about Kobe." He spoke about how Bryant constantly came to him for advice, regardless of whatever time of day it was. Despite it being aggravating at first, MJ began to respect the "passion" it showed.
About halfway through his time, Jordan pointed out the obvious by likening the visible emotion he was displaying to the time he cried during his 2009 Hall of Fame speech. Specifically, he brought up how it was immortalized in meme-form.
"Now he's got me. I'm gonna have to look at another crying meme," Jordan said. "I told my wife that I wasn't going to do this because I didn't want to see that for the next three or more years. That is what Kobe Bryant does to me."
From there Jordan talked about a recent text exchange that they had when Bryant was trying to teach his late daughter, Gianna, some moves on the court. He said Bryant asked him "what [he] was thinking about" when he was growing up trying to learn. When Kobe revealed the age of his daughter, Jordan cracked another joke by stating that he was trying to play baseball when he was 12. Jordan then revealed this text exchange went down at 2 a.m.
"The thing about him is that we could talk about anything that related to basketball," Jordan said. "But we could talk about anything that related to life."
He went on to talk about Kobe's passion, and competitive spirit, as well as his post-retirement "creative side." Jordan ended his tribute by saying, "Please, rest in peace, little brother."
You can watch the full 12-minute clip below, with the crying meme reference coming around the 5:40 mark: