The world of sport is mourning Kobe Bryant after the tragic news of his passing on Sunday.
The 41-year-old was killed along with eight others, including his daughter Gianna, in a helicopter crash outside of Calabasas, California.
Tributes have been pouring in from some of the greatest athletes of all time including LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Tiger Woods and many others.
Few will feel the weight of the news quite like those at the Los Angeles Lakers, though; the franchise with which Bryant spent the entirety of his 20-year NBA career.
Hundreds of his fans gathered outside the Staples Center on Sunday night, despite police warnings and the incumbent Grammys ceremony, to express their condolences for the ‘Black Mamba’.
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Bryant’s legendary No.24 jersey
Bryant played his final game for the Lakers in 2016 and they bestowed him with the unprecedented honour of retiring both his No.8 and No.24 jerseys.
And in the wake of his tragic passing, NBA fans have been calling for all teams to retire the No.24 jersey in particular as a sign of respect for the legend himself.
Whether that movement will gather stream remains to be seen, but the Dallas Mavericks haven’t waited around and their owner Mark Cuban has issued a moving statement.
Dallas Mavericks retire No.24
“We are shocked and saddened by the devastating news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. Kobe was an ambassador for our game, a decorated legend and a global icon. Above all, he was a loving and dedicated father.
“Kobe’s legacy transcends basketball, and our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick.
“Our hearts go out to all the lives lost and the families impacted by this terrible tragedy. We send our thoughts and prayers to Vanessa and the family, the Lakers organization and Kobe Bryant fans everywhere.”
What a touching tribute and fitting gesture.
While it’s not unusual for franchises to retire the numbers of their own legends, it’s testimony to Bryant’s transcendence across the sport that a ‘rival’ team has now followed suit.
Besides, whether or not the entire NBA waves goodbye to No.24 forever, we know for a fact that nobody will ever wear it on the court with the same brilliance that Bryant did. Rest in peace.