NO. 24 or No. 8?
Kobe Bryant’s announcement that the 2015-16 season will be his last has prompted questions (and a spirited debate among basketball fans) as to what jersey number the Los Angeles Lakers will retire.
In a report on Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time) TMZ Sports said Lakers management will be conducting meetings to decide which of the two jersey numbers Bryant has worn during his Lakers career will hang from the rafters.
"We have had a couple very casual and preliminary conversations internally about this over the past few years," said a Lakers spokesperson. "But now that Kobe has officially announced a retirement date, I anticipate we will discuss this more formally in the coming weeks and months."
If the Lakers allow Bryant to choose, it is believed the future Hall of Famer will pick his current number. This is according to a 2013 article by the Orange County Register where Bryant stated his preference.
From 1996 to 2006, Bryant began his career wearing the No. 8 for multiple reasons — it is the sum of No.143, the number he wore as a youngster in the adidas ABCD Camp and was also the number of Mike D’Antoni, one of his favorite players growing up in Italy (who incidentally also coached Bryant in LA).
Wearing No. 8, Bryant won three NBA titles with center Shaquille O’Neal and it was also in this uniform that he scored a memorable 81 points against the Toronto Raptors.
Saying he always wanted to wear No. 24 since he was a rookie but was then unavailable, Bryant made the switch in the 2006-07 season as a tribute to his playing days at Lower Merion High School.
No. 24 will be associated with Bryant establishing his post-Shaq identity, winning two more NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVP awards and an NBA MVP award.
Regardless what number the Purple and Gold will retire at the end of the season, both 8 and 24 will be always linked with the man known as The Black Mamba.