It's a rarity for Michael Jordan, perhaps sports' greatest competitor, to dole out compliments.
But with Kobe Bryant making his final trip to Charlotte, the city of the team that drafted him, Jordan couldn't help but pay tribute to one of the game's other all-time greats.
[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]
The team ran a 90-second video of Jordan thanking Bryant for his contributions to basketball and wishing him well in whatever he chose after his career was over.
"I just want to congratulate you on an unbelievable NBA career. I think when I look back, and the first time we actually played against each other and the competitive drive that I saw within your eyes, even though the knowledge wasn’t quite there yet, it was very invigorating. And I’m very happy to leave you this message to say how much we are very proud of what you have accomplished over the years.
Most people don’t realize you were drafted by (the) Charlotte Hornets, so that connects us with you. I’ve always been like a big brother, and you’re like a little brother, we communicate all the time. I just wanted to say congratulations. Your next step and your career is going to be something that I’m pretty sure you’re going to have to figure out, from the competitive standpoint I’m pretty sure you’re just like me. You’re going to have to find other ways to utilize that competitive drive. But I want to congratulate you and Vanessa and the girls. You’ve been a big help to the game of basketball. You helped the NBA, you helped promote it, I’m pretty sure you’ve got a lot of fans all over the world.
I am a big fan. I still love watching you play. I’m very, very happy for you and what you’ve accomplished within the game and I look forward to seeing what you do next. If you ever need me, you know my number. Let’s stay in touch. I wish you the best and have a great game tonight – not too good of a game. But I want you to stay healthy. As I said a couple weeks ago, this is your last year. Just have fun, take it a day at a time, enjoy it and I look forward to seeing what you do after this. Take care. Good luck."
Real recognize real.