Lakers set to retire both of Kobe Bryant’s jersey numbers

first_imgHe becomes the 10th Lakers player to have his jersey retired, and the first since O’Neal saw his No. 34 go up in 2013. In addition to his former teammate, Bryant will join Lakers legends Wilt Chamberlain (13), Elgin Baylor (22), Gail Goodrich (25), Magic Johnson (32), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33), James Worthy (42), Jerry West (44) and Jamaal Wilkes (52) in the rafters.While fans can always debate the relative greatness of those players, Bryant will go down as the only player to have two numbers retired, a fitting tribute to an unapologetic volume shooter whose final season evolved into a first-of-its-kind farewell tour after he announced his plans to retire a month into the 2015-16 campaign.Bryant wore No. 8 for the first 10 years of his career but prior to the 2006-07, seeking to rebrand after allegations of sexual assault shattered his reputation and sent sponsors running, returned to No. 24, which he first wore at Lower Merion (Pa.) High School.While an eventual jersey retirement was a foregone conclusion, there was some intrigue to how the Lakers would settle the issue of which number, if not both, to memorialize.Last year, Bryant told ESPN that regardless of which number was hung, “It’ll be pretty hard for someone else to wear the other one.”Now, there won’t be any question. In the first of the two distinct stages of his 20-year career with the Lakers, Kobe Bryant was exuberant and cocksure, sporting the afro, clearly ready to escape the long shadow of a very large teammate. That was No. 8.No. 24 was the calculating alpha with a carefully cultivated alter ego — the Black Mamba — who won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award and won two titles without Shaquille O’Neal in addition to the three the two won together.Professional teams have long immortalized their greatest stars by retiring their jersey numbers, but in the case of Bryant, how do you honor the legacy of a player who made such significant contributions wearing two jersey numbers?Retire them both? AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThat seems to be the solution the Lakers have landed on. reported Tuesday that Bryant’s Nos. 8 and 24 will soon hang in Staples Center.Bryant will be celebrated with a jersey retirement ceremony Dec. 18, when the Lakers host the defending champion Golden State Warriors, as first reported by TMZ early Tuesday morning.The honor for Bryant comes less than two years after Bryant played his final game, a dazzling and dramatic 60-point sendoff against the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2015. Originally drafted 13th overall in 1996 by Charlotte and traded to the Lakers for Vlade Divac, Bryant went on to score 33,643 career points, the third-most in league history.After news of the ceremony broken, ticket prices soared for matchup with the Warriors — already a hot ticket due to the matchup between rookie Lonzo Ball and two-time MVP Stephen Curry. As of Tuesday afternoon, tickets on started at $580. The secondary marketplace TickPick reported that with an average ticket price of $988, the game became the second-most expensive ticket of the season, behind only the Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers ($1,092) on Christmas.Bryant will become eligible for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021, and is a virtual lock to go in on the first ballot. As with O’Neal, the Lakers opted not to wait for that formality. Last spring, O’Neal became the third Lakers player to have his image cast in a bronze statue outside Staples Center last spring, and it stands to reason that Bryant won’t be too far behind.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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