The Los Angeles Lakers have announced they will honor Kobe Bryant once again by retiring both of the legend’s career jerseys.
The news first spread early this morning as it was reported by TMZ, then several hours later the Lakers confirmed they would retire both No.8 and No. 24 in honor of Kobe Bryant.
Kobe will go down as one of the greatest NBA players of all time–no matter where you rank him, and he is certainly in the running for the greatest Laker ever.
After honoring the Mamba in his final game as a pro–where he dropped 60 points to close out his career–by putting both of his career numbers on the hardwood, L.A. will do it again by hanging both his jerseys in the rafters.
The Lakers will retire the No. 8 and 24 jerseys during a halftime ceremony on December 18th when L.A. faces the Golden State Warriors.
In a statement regarding the news reported on Lakers.com, here’s what Bryant had to say:
“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,” said Bryant. “The Lakers have bestowed a huge honor on me and I’m grateful for the fans’ enthusiasm around this game.”
Kobe is an 18-time All-Star and the first NBA player ever to spend 20 years with one team. By doing so Bryant became the Lakers’ all-time leader in regular season games played (1,346), points (33,643), three-pointers made (1,827), steals (1,944) and free throws made (8,378), while owning franchise playoff records for games played (220), points (5,640), three-pointers made (292) and free throws made (1,320).
He helped bring five NBA titles to L.A. (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010) and was named Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010.
Here’s what Lakers General Manager, ex-agent and close friend Rob Pelinka had to say about Kobe:
“Kobe’s impact on this franchise is immeasurable,” said General Manager Rob Pelinka. “Kobe carried the torch for the Lakers for 20 seasons, keeping the franchise at the forefront of the NBA following the ‘Showtime’ Era. Beyond the championship banners and individual accolades, Kobe’s ‘Mamba Mentality’ is something the Lakers will always try to emulate. It alone daily inspires all of us to strive for greatness. Kobe’s loyalty and dedication to his craft make him one of the most iconic superstars in sports history. The full impact he has on this game and on future generations will not be fully recognized for a long, long time.”
Both owner Jeanie Buss and President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson echoed those sentiments with Johnson adding, “This honor is very well deserved,” and Buss offering these words, “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.”
Kobe Bryant has been a model of excellence his entire career and now he will make history as the first player in the NBA to have two jerseys retired by one team.
Some may not think of Kobe as the greatest ever; some may say that LeBron James was the better player of the two but for Laker fans and people from Los Angeles Kobe was a hero, and there was no one who outmatched him.
Forget about rings and forget about league MVPs–there are players out there with more than the Mamba. But no matter the hardware, no one, and I repeat no one, had the heart and the competitive nature the likes of Kobe.
No one worked as hard as him and no one wanted it as bad as he did; he was the ultimate warrior.
Now Kobe will be honored by the Lakers in the best possible way. They’ll retire not one but both of his jerseys and there was never any real doubt about it.
In honor of the Mamba, here is a video of his career highlights (against every team):