On Monday night, when the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Golden State Warriors at the Staples Center, a very special guest will be in town for a halftime ceremony.
During the intermission, the Lakers will retire both of Kobe Bryant's jersey numbers -- No. 8 and No. 24 -- in what is sure to be a festive affair.
Bryant won five NBA titles and finished his career third on the league's all-time scoring list, thanks in large part to his legendary work ethic.
That work ethic stood out to Luke Walton, who now coaches the Lakers after spending several years as Bryant's teammate. He told ClutchPoints.com that it was impossible not to work hard when you were around Kobe:
“What stood out to me about Kobe was once practice started,” Walton said. “The way that he worked. The way that he was the first one in the building even though he’s one of the best players in the world. The way that he talked trash every single day, and he didn’t just do it in a fun way, he wanted your best, and he was going to give you his. He did it every single day. Those are the type of things that really stuck out to me about playing with Kobe.”
Indeed, Kobe demanded the best of his teammates, and was a leader on and off the court, even if some players (Dwight Howard, Shaquille O'Neal and others) found it difficult to play with him.
Sadly, Walton said he's not sure the Lakers will be watching Kobe's ceremony on Monday night, as they may have some adjustments to make at halftime. However, he said there's still a chance that his team will be able to catch at least some of the proceedings (via LakersNation.com):
“I hadn’t thought much about [watching the ceremony],” Walton said Sunday. “We’re still deciding how we’ll approach halftime.
“Our first priority is still the job that we have. I’m sure there’s going to be some halftime adjustments we need to make against the Warriors. We’re toying with a couple different ideas to let guys at least see part of it.”
Steve Kerr, head coach of the Warriors, has expressed an interest in watching the ceremony, so perhaps Walton will allow his team to do the same. It all likely depends on how the game is going at that point, but it would be great if the Lakers were allowed to watch the Los Angeles legend get his jersey numbers retired.