NBA legend Michael Jordan was in tears remembering Kobe Bryant in a Los Angeles memorial service at the Staples Center on Monday, but it was a joke about his emotional state that really lifted the crowd.
"I'm going to have to see another crying meme," Jordan quipped, referencing a popular internet photo of him crying during his 2009 Basketball Hall of Fame induction.
"Michael Jordan, as always, with the game winner. We were all thinking about the crying meme watching Jordan on the podium. #ForKobeAndGigi," sports journalist Jemele Hill wrote on Twitter.
Jordan said he and Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 with 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, were as close as siblings.
"Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I," Jordan said. "I just wanted to talk about Kobe. I wanted to be the best big brother I could be."
Jordan said the two men talked "about everything," whether it was basketball, business or family.
"He was just trying to be a better person," Jordan said. He then told the packed audience to take a life lesson from Bryant.
"Kobe never left anything on the court, and I think that is what he would want for us to do," Jordan said. "No one knows how much time we have. That is why we must live in the moment, enjoy the moment.
"I will live with the memories of knowing I had a little brother, and I tried to help him everywhere I could. Please rest in peace, little brother."
Jordan was one of several celebrities close to Bryant who paid tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers legend at his memorial service. But the event's most poignant moment was Vanessa Bryant eulogizing her husband and daughter.
"God knew they couldn't be on this Earth without each other,'' she said while fighting back tears. "He had to bring them home to have them together.
"Babe, you take care of our Gigi. … We’re still the best team. May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven until we meet again one day."