Kobe Bryant returned to Staples Center on Dec. 18, where the LA Lakers retired both of his numbers — 8 and 24! See the historic moment.
Kobe Bryant, 39, returned to Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday Dec. 18, and his legacy will officially live on inside the arena forever. The Los Angeles Lakers retired both his jerseys — No. 8 and No. 24 — during halftime of their game against the Golden State Warriors. Yes, both of Kobe’s jerseys now hang in the Staples Center rafters for the world to see. The halftime ceremony marks one of the leagues most historic retirement events, if not the most, as Kobe is now the first player in NBA history to have two different numbers retired by the same team. Click here to see photos from Kobe’s last game.
Former teammates Shaquille O’Neal, 45, Lamar Odom, 38, and Lakers living legends Bill Russell, 83, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, 70, were in the house to watch Mamba’s big honor, along with his wife Vanessa, 35, and their three daughters. Kobe and his family were sitting court side for the first two quarters, which brought back so many memories for the Lakers superstar.
The event began with a video on the big screen narrated by Kobe about how he fell in love with basketball as child and how that passion never left him. The broadcast showed a split screen of Kobe near the tunnel watching it as he got misty-eyes looking at his journey through the sport. He then made his way onto the court one more time for a standing ovation from the audience.
Former Lakers great and team president Earvin “Magic” Johnson, 58, had the honor of introducing him, calling him “the greatest who ever wore purple and gold,” and thanked him for bringing the team five NBA championships. He said “There will never ever be another Kobe Bryant,” recalling when he scored 81 points in a single game. He also thanked him for bringing together fans of all races in unity for 20 years.
His numbers were then unveiled, where they sat on either side of late longtime announcer Chick Hearn‘s honorary jersey. Kobe praised those who had their numbers retired before him, saying “Without them I couldn’t be here today.” He then said “It’s about the next generation. It’s about the current Lakers roster we have here. It’s about embodying the spirit of the jerseys up there so the next 20 years are greater than the last 20 years.” He then thanked the fans as well as his wife and family, telling his girls that if they “work hard enough, dreams come true…it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”
Kobe’s original number derived from Adidas ABCD Camp, 143, whose digits add up to 8, according to ESPN‘s Baxter Holmes; That is also the number he wore in Italy. Kobe then switched to No. 24 in his 2006-07 season, which was the number he donned in high school at Lower Merion. Although the two numbers hold significantly different mentalities and meanings to one another, Kobe has said he’s the “same beast.” In a press conference before the big event, he revealed that if he had to pick what number he would choose to be wearing if a statue of him is erected in front of Staples Center, he said he would have to go with 24 because those years were more challenging for him, and he’s all about taking on challenges.
The ceremony was so special, that even Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr, 52, didn’t want to miss out on seeing it. Instead of their regular halftime ritual, Kerr had his team stay on the court during halftime to witness history. “Just the experience in seeing one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired, and we happen to be there,” Kerr said Saturday, per Chris Haynes of ESPN. “I’m not going to keep them in the locker room to watch tape of the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts. There’s something interesting going on the floor. Let’s go out there.”
Kobe became the 10th Laker to have his jersey retired by the iconic franchise. A team spokesperson earlier explained that it was simply impossible to retire just one of his jersey’s given Kobe’s illustrious success. For the first decade of his career, Kobe rocked No. 8, and for the second he rocked No. 24 — Both jersey journeys were historic in their own, with Kobe scoring 16,777 point as No. 8, and 16,866 as No. 24.
With five championship rings under his belt, the 18-time All-Star played his final NBA game against the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2016, where he scored a season-high 60 points.
— NBA (@NBA) December 19, 2017
HollywoodLifers, were you moved by Kobe speech at his Lakers numbers retirement ceremony?