Michael Jordan is still so torn up over losing Kobe Bryant ... he says he can't bring himself to erase the final text messages he received from the Lakers legend just days before his death.
The NBA's G.O.A.T. revealed this week his last talks with Bryant went down on Dec. 8, 2019 ... just 49 days before Kobe and his daughter, Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash.
Jordan told ESPN's Jackie MacMullen the convo was simple ... Kobe complimented his new tequila, asked about his family, and commented on coaching Gianna's girl's basketball team.
"This tequila is awesome," Jordan said Kobe texted after he had sent over a bottle.
"Thank you, my brother," Jordan says he responded.
"Yes, sir. Family good?" Kobe replied.
"All good. Yours?"
Jordan continued ... "Happy holidays, and hope to catch up soon. Coach Kobe??!"
"Ah, back at you, man," MJ says Kobe wrote back. "Hey, coach, I'm sitting on the bench right now, and we're blowing this team out. 45-8."
Jordan says the messages -- particularly the one about dominating with Gianna's team -- mean a lot to him -- explaining, "I just love that text because it shows Kobe's competitive nature."
Jordan added, "I don't know why, but I just can't delete it."
As we previously reported, Jordan was picked by Vanessa Bryant to present Kobe at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ceremonies this Saturday in Massachusetts.
Jordan says the honor is huge -- and he promised he'd be emotional remembering his good friend during the evening.
"It's like standing up for a family member," Jordan said. "He paid me the highest respect by trying to emulate certain things I did."
"And I can only repay that by showing my support and admiration for a guy who I felt was one of the greatest to ever play the game."