Kobe Bryant Gives Perfect Answer For Which Jersey Number The Lakers Should Retire
Kobe Bryant’s playing career is over. The five-time NBA champion let his intentions to retire be known back in November. Although Bryant seemed to be considering either extending his career with the Los Angeles Lakers or at least giving Team USA one more shot at the Olympics, the veteran shooting guard decided April 13 was going to be the last time he played professional basketball in the NBA.
As Kobe Bryant heads into retirement, one question remains unanswered. There’s still no definitive answer on which jersey number, 8 or 24, will be retired by the Lakers. Bryant, in classic fashion, isn’t concerned about which number will hang in the rafters at the Staples Center.
Kobe recently gave the perfect answer to this question on Wednesday while being honored at L.A. City Hall. During the first annual “Kobe Bryant Day,” the former Lakers superstar continued his stance on leaving it up to the team to decide which number to retire, via Bill Oram of Orange County Register.
“The way I look at it,” he said, smirking, “if we do retire one number, it’s going to be very, very hard for someone else to wear the other.”
As for the Lakers brass, the team also remains undecided about which jersey number of Kobe’s will be immortalized at the Staples Center. General manager Mitch Kupchak said the following about the decision back in January, via Matt Moore of CBS Sports.
“I don’t know the answer. Obviously it’s going to be 8, 24 or it could be both,” said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak
Kobe Bryant will be the 10th player in the history of the Lakers franchise to have his number retired. Bryant will join other Lakers greats Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, Jamaal Wilkes, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and his former teammate Shaquille O’Neal. Legendary broadcaster Chick Hearn also has a jersey with a microphone rather than a number on the back retired at Staples.
The recently retired Bryant is also expected to have a bronze statue outside of the Staples Center in the near future. The team recently announced that O’Neal would be the next in line to get his statue joining Magic, Kareem, West, and Hearn.
Kobe Bryant wore No. 8 for the first 10 years of his career in which he burst onto the scene in the NBA and won three titles playing alongside fellow superstar Shaq. Bryant made the switch to No. 24 in 2006 and went on to win two more titles with the help of Pau Gasol.
Although the first decade of Kobe Bryant’s career resulted in one more NBA title in comparison to the last 10 years, the Lakers star seemed to have much more of an impact on the league, fans, and his peers in the latter half of his career. Kobe became somewhat of an ambassador of the NBA in the same way Michael Jordan did when he was the face of the league during his days with the Chicago Bulls.
Bryant is by far the most popular NBA star in the world today with an incredibly large following in China. LeBron James continues to close the gap since emerging as arguably the best player in the league over the last few years, but Bryant’s popularity has only grown stronger with an enormous fanbase all over the globe.
There’s no question Kobe Bryant is more than deserving of all the recognition he’s received since announcing his retirement late last year. The 38-year-old retiree is widely considered the greatest Laker of all-time after 20 years of service. An incredible distinction considering all the iconic players that have come before him in Los Angeles.
Despite his absence from the game in the years to come, Kobe Bryant will remain in the public eye. The former Laker is moving onto another career path with his company Kobe Inc. and plans to stay as relevant as ever in both the sports and entertainment industry.
[Photo by Jae C. Hong/AP Images]