A Tale of Two GOATS: His Airness & The Black Mamba

a meme of Michael Jordan crying at his HOF speech and at Kobe’s memorial service

On February 24th, Staples Center welcomed thousands of people to come pay their respects to Kobe “Bean” Bryant and his 13-year old daughter, Gianna Bryant, who suffered a fatal helicopter accident on the gloomy morning of January 26, 2020.

For me, as a Lakers fan, this was one of the toughest days of my life. I hadn’t conspired to dream of such a thing — it was truly a sad consequence all around. Luckily, I’ve been finding solace in the world’s reaction to this horrid event by paying tributes to Kobe and his daughter through the arts. I was driving through LA the other day and spotted Kobe murals all over the City of Angels.

During the memorial service, Michael Jordan made a great speech that was equally three parts heartwarming, inspiring, and full of humor.

Personal Relationships

Jordan touched on the personal relationship he had with Kobe Bryant (something very few people on the planet know much about) in a way that revealed their camaraderie as big brother, little brother. I think this is important for us today as we experience a shift in the paradigm from one generation to another. The workforce is making space for a younger cohort as the older workers wane themselves into retirement. Kobe was all about paying it forward. Seeing Kobe reflect with humility on the relationship with MJ is something we all can glean from, whether it be in the realm of competition in business, in school or even in the household.

Burning Passion

Though everybody talked about it, you never heard Jordan mention what his true impression of Kobe being a carbon copy of his game. It was humbling for him to convert that perspective into how he came to eventually understand it to be. Kobe was a relentless worker who put in the effort to shadow his game after Michael Jordan. Jordan took note of that and implored the crowd to follow after your passion. The fact that Kobe’s name is so close to MJ’s in so many conversational nooks and crannies worldwide shows you how motivated Mamba was to get to that level of reality — don’t give up!

Girl Dad

Oftentimes, black fathers get a bad rap as being present for their children. Kobe was known to have been a proud Girl Dad and seeing Michael Jordan respond to that by saying he’s “excited” to spend time with his daughter and granddaughters is an awesome thing.

Crying Jordan Meme

One of my initial thoughts in processing Kobe’s death was that we never got to hear his HOF speech. This was honestly one of the greater things I was looking forward to seeing in 2020. I wanted to see him articulate his thoughts on the game and how it has impacted him, I wanted him to finally respond to Shaq’s 2008 freestyle about him losing to the Celtics. The way Jordan got competitive in his speech, I was excited to see Kobe do something similar or event drop some ‘zen’ on us all. He was truly comfortable in retirement, as a writer/producer, he was focused on the task at hand of his would-be second act of a creative career.

Last but not least, the Crying Jordan meme. A legend of its time, it was one of the seminal memes to usher in the first decade of social media. As more apps became popular, more content was created, and so, the birth of the Crying Jordan meme would stir about.

Though, most people should know that His Airness is quite the recluse and doesn’t open up to the general public. Therefore, him conveying failing to control his deepest emotions for the loss of Kobe and while touching upon the fact that this meme would be resurrected made it easily the high-point of the speech.

Once he made that remark, I could easily imagine Kobe grinning and laughing uncontrollably at the epiphany his former competitor-turned-mentor was having and sharing with the live audience. Naturally, of course, it is the source of inspiration for the title — hope you enjoyed!



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Stephen Ngao

Stephen Ngao

Aspiring entrepreneur in love with music, film, finance, and tech. Carpe diem!