On September 12, the Los Angeles Lakers made the announcement of the jersey retirement for a pair of Lakers.
When the Lakers host the Golden State Warriors at the Staples Center on December 18, they will retire the jersey No. 8 and 24 in a halftime ceremony.
Of course, you may be confused as to why there is a pair of Lakers being retired when both of those numbers belong to recently retired superstar, Kobe Bryant. That is because he was a different version with each number.
The first version was when Kobe wear the No. 8 Jersey, and he was criticized for being a ball hog by many critics and media members.
But let’s be honest, Bryant wouldn’t be the player we know today if he didn’t ball out since day one.
That day came after being drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets and later traded to the Lakers. A 17-year-old kid from Lower Merion High School who couldn’t even sign his own contract got passed on in the draft because other teams didn’t think he could handle the professional level straight from High School.
Former Lakers player and front office man, Jerry West took the risk, and we all saw where Bryant’s career went from there.
Obviously, the Lakers added more pieces around Bryant to help bring him along and make him into a leader; pieces like his 1996 draft class friend and teammate, Derek Fisher.
They also managed to sign the hottest free agent, Shaquille O’Neal in the same year. Two years later, they brought over one of the best coaches of all-time from the Jordanless Chicago Bulls, Phil Jackson.
That was the moment Bryant’s career changed forever! Jackson brought a unique offensive scheme (triangle) with him, and it seemed to be the best one for Bryant’s game. It was the same offense that won Michael Jordan six championships.
It was with the leadership and guidance of O’Neal, Fisher, and Jackson that helped Bryant grow into the team leader after everyone went their own ways.
Bryant won the NBA championship five times with Jackson as coach of the Lakers (three with O’Neal).
Maybe it could’ve been more, but everyone knows the story of their historic break up in 2004 after losing in the NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons.
But it was that moment when Bryant’s critics showed up more. All the blame was thrown on him, and the failure of the Lakers was all his fault.
Even though Bryant did up his game and won a pair of Scoring titles and on league MVP. He scored 40 plus points nine consecutive times in a season, tied for second most with Jordan.
He also scored a career-high 81 points in a game, and the critics were still there. Let’s not forget that 81 points is the second most points ever scored in a single game behind another Lakers great, Wilt Chamberlain.
Bryant continued to put his blood, sweat, and tears into the game he loved and became the first player in NBA history to play 20 seasons with one Franchise.
And that’s when we all discovered No. 24, Black Mamba. Although Bryant scored his career high wearing No. 8, he continued to bring the ‘Mamba Mentality’ throughout his career. It was the Black Mamba who won the MVP in 2007-08.
Beyond the championship banners and individual accolades, Kobe’s ‘Mamba Mentality’ is something the Lakers will always try to imitate. It was more of inspiration to strive for greatness than just the way that Bryant played.
The 18-time All-Star retired after 20 seasons and capped off his distinguished career the only way he knew how with a 60-point performance vs. Utah on April 13, 2016.
Whether Bryant wore No. 8 or No. 24, he sits as the Lakers all-time leader in several categories for both regular season and playoffs.
Regular season statistics:
Games played (1,346), points (33,643), three-pointers made (1,827), steals (1,944) and free throws made (8,378)
Games played (220), points (5,640), three-pointers made (292) and free throws made (1,320).
His averages for both numbers are mirror images. He played 10 seasons with each number and has averaged 25.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists. He won three titles wearing No. 8 and two titles and an M.V. P. wearing No. 24.
So it’s safe to say that the Lakers organization is making the right decision by retiring both of his Jersey’s. Like 10 another Lakers before him, he will be hanging in the raptures forever, but just remember his last words as a Laker…..
Tune into NBATV for the retirement ceremony and enjoy a great game between two young teams. I know I’ll be watching, will you?
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