The NBA world lost an amazing player and a fantastic human being on Sunday when Kobe Bryant died tragically in a helicopter crash. The horrible accident took the life of Bryant and his young daughter Gianna, and it led to fans remembering the player and their family. One of the things that so many recall is that Bryant is the only player in league history to have two jerseys retired by the same team, and both had serious importance.
As time goes on and careers continue, players will age and sometimes, they’ll end up playing for different teams. Some have had such huge impacts in multiple locations that they have had their jerseys retired by a number of the teams for which they’ve played.
Kobe Bryant had a 20-year career that kept him in purple-and-gold for two decades as he never once played for anyone but the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite never playing for another team or taking a break from the game, Bryant did have two different numbers on his jerseys.
When his career came to an end, Bryant became the sixth player to have two different numbers retired along with Pete Maravich, Shaquille O’Neal, Earl Monroe, Oscar Robertson, and Julius Erving. The major difference is that Bryant is the only player in NBA history to have two different numbers retired by one team.
For the first 10 years of his career, Bryant wore No. 8 before switching to No. 24 for the second half of his historic NBA journey, as reported by ESPN.
On the night of the NBA Draft back in 1996, Kobe Bryant was selected by the Charlotte Hornets and quickly traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. In high school, he played wearing No. 24 and No. 33, but neither of those was available upon his arrival in Los Angeles.
Bryant selected 8 as it was the jersey number he wore during his time living in Italy. The basketball legend also wore No. 143 while playing at the Adidas ABCD Camp and adding up those numbers does equal eight.
Upon the arrival of the second half of his career, Bryant switched to No. 24 as his time on the court and his maturity continued to grow.
“It’s a new book, 24 — 24 is every day. Because when you get older, your muscles start getting sore. Body starts aching. You show up to practice that day, you have to remind yourself, ‘OK, this day is the most important day. I got to push through this soreness. My ankles are tight, they won’t get loose. I got to go through it, because this is the most important day.’ So, 24 also helped me from a motivational standpoint”
Kobe Bryant became the 10th Los Angeles Laker to have his jersey retired, but he was the first to ever have two numbers retired by one team. Magic Johnson and the Lakers knew that they couldn’t just retire one jersey as he had so much success in both of those numbers. He would have always been immortalized in the halls of the Lakers and the NBA, but his sudden death makes everyone realize that he was taken far too soon.