Kobe Bryant has given his best years to the NBA.
Now, the NBA is deciding to celebrate the former Laker the best way possible.
Bryant has changed the great game of basketball. It saddened me when he announced his retirement after the 2015-2016 season. The Los Angeles Lakers finally came to an agreement on what jersey number should be retired. The franchise has determined that both jersey number 8 and 24, would be retired on Dec. 18.
It doesn’t surprise me. Bryant deserves that, if not more. He has worked hard his entire basketball career. He was drafted right out of high school, and his career statistics are unbelievable. Many believe he is better than Michael Jordan. Even if some don’t believe that, his records speak for themselves.
Bryant was the first player in NBA history to have at least 30,000 career points and 6,000 career assists. He was just the third player in NBA history to average 40 points in a calendar month, which he has accomplished four times. His 81-point game against Toronto on Jan. 26, 2006 was a night my dad and I will never forget! It was the second highest in NBA history behind Wilt Chamberlain, who has the record of 100 points.
My family, friends and NBA fans around the world were astonished by Bryant’s performance that night. My dad was so excited that he even bought a t-shirt representing Bryant and his 81-point game. I’m not saying Bryant is perfect, but he sure is close to it. He had a gift, and he utilized it well.
So, I do agree with the Lakers that both numbers should be retired. Bryant started with number 8 and switched to 24 during the middle of his career. It would only make sense that both numbers should be retired. It wouldn’t feel or look right if another player was wearing one or the other. He has worn both jerseys for 10 seasons. He has won three NBA championships with the number 8 jersey and two with 24.
The best thing about this whole situation is Bryant never demanded to have both jerseys retired. He didn’t feel entitled. When the franchise announced that they will be retiring both numbers, Bryant said to ESPN in a news release, “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. The Lakers have bestowed a huge honor on me, and I’m grateful for the fans’ enthusiasm around this game.”
Jeanie Buss, the team’s, controlling owner, said “Kobe’s jerseys are taking their rightful home next to the greatest Lakers of all time.” She is correct. Bryant’s jerseys will hang in the rafters with some of the greatest Lakers of all time, such as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and Jerry West.
I am very pleased with this decision. I’ve been a fan of the Lakers for a while, and so has my dad. I grew up watching him. He has set the tone for other great NBA players doing great things for the league.
I’ve been to a Lakers game once, and I knew something didn’t feel complete about it. Now I know why. The next time I go I’ll be sure to look up at the rafters to see two jerseys from one of the greatest NBA players of all time, in their rightful place.