Kobe Bryant was one of the best NBA players of his generation and can arguably be considered the best Los Angeles Laker ever.
As a result, the Lakers will not only retire one of his jersey numbers, but both his No. 8 and No. 24 before their game against the Golden State Warriors on December 18, the team announced on Tuesday.
Bryant played 20 seasons with the Lakers and led the franchise to five championships along the way. He scored an amazing 33,643 career points, which ranks third on the all-time list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone, and also made 18 Western Conference All-Star teams.
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As you can imagine, Bryant reacted with grace and thanks after finding out about the team’s plans.
"As a kid growing up in Italy, I always dreamed of my jersey hanging in the Lakers rafters, but I certainly never imagined two of them," Bryant said in a news release. "The Lakers have bestowed a huge honor on me and I'm grateful for the fans' enthusiasm around this game.”
"Kobe's jerseys are taking their rightful home next to the greatest Lakers of all time," Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss said in the release. "There was never any doubt this day would come, the only question was when. Once again, Lakers fans will celebrate our hero, and once again, our foes will envy the legendary Kobe Bryant.”
"This honor is very well deserved," said director of basketball operations and Laker legend Magic Johnson. ”Kobe was one of the greatest Lakers and NBA players of all-time and he's definitely on my Mount Rushmore. I look forward to seeing BOTH of his jerseys be retired and celebrating this special day with Kobe and his family."
Per ESPN, Bryant will be the 10th player in franchise history to have his jersey retired, joining Wilt Chamberlain (No. 13), Elgin Baylor (22), Gail Goodrich (25), Magic Johnson (32), Abdul-Jabbar (33), O'Neal (34), James Worthy (42), Jerry West (44) and Jamaal Wilkes (52).
Bryant will become the sixth player in NBA history to have two different jersey numbers retired, joining some impressive company:
Kobe spent 10 years apiece wearing his two numbers and posted remarkably similar numbers while doing so. Wearing No. 8 to begin his career, he posted 16,866 points, made it to eight All-Star games and won three NBA titles. Then, wearing No. 24 for the second half, he amassed 16,178 points and made nine All-Star teams, won two NBA titles and added an NBA MVP.
Therefore, both numbers seem to be worthy of hanging in the rafters.