Lakers to retire both of Kobe Bryant's jerseys

September 13, 2017

Even in retirement, Kobe Bryant remains a polarizing figure.

The Los Angeles Lakers announced that they will retire Kobe Bryant’s jersey numbers 8 and 24 in a halftime ceremony to be held on December 18 when the Lakers host the Golden State Warriors at the Staples Center.

“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," said Bryant. “The Lakers have bestowed a huge honor on me and I'm grateful for the fans' enthusiasm around this game.”

This is the first time the Lakers have retired two numbers for one player, sparking grumbling among the fanbase that Bryant is upstaging other team greats.

Whether Bryant will be honored with one jersey "dissected" in half with two numbers, or two entirely separate jerseys, remains to be seen.  But all indications point to the latter, and that appears to be the problem.

“This honor is very well deserved,” said Lakers President of Basketball Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson. “Kobe was one of the greatest Lakers and NBA players of all-time and he’s definitely on my Mount Rushmore. I look forward to seeing both of his jerseys be retired and celebrating this special day with Kobe and his family.”

Kobe is an all-time NBA great, but most experts older than 29 and with any semblance of perspective would concur that his franchise impact, talent, and ranking among the all-time greats falls vastly below both Magic and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  Still, he will apparently overshadow each of them by having two jerseys to their one.

Some might snicker that perhaps he is merely half the player of the other greats, hence the need for two jerseys. That would not be a fair assessment either.  Still, it is an odd break from tradition, and falsely seems to elevate him above the other team greats.

The Chicago Bulls, after all, never retired Michael Jordan's number 45.

Bryant will become the 10th player in Los Angeles Lakers history to earn this distinction, joining Wilt Chamberlain (13), Elgin Baylor (22), Gail Goodrich (25), Earvin “Magic” Johnson (32), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33), Shaquille O’Neal (34), James Worthy (42), Jerry West (44) and Jamaal Wilkes (52).

“Kobe’s jerseys are taking their rightful home next to the greatest Lakers of all time,” said Lakers CEO and Controlling Owner Jeanie Buss. “There was never any doubt this day would come, the only question was when. Once again, Lakers fans will celebrate our hero, and once again, our foes will envy the legendary Kobe Bryant.”

The 18-time All-Star retired as the first player in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons with a single franchise, capping off his illustrious career with a 60-point performance vs. Utah on April 13, 2016. Bryant helped lead the Lakers to five NBA Championships (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010), earning Finals MVP honors in 2009 and 2010. Voted the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2008, Bryant earned First Team All-NBA honors 11 times and was a member of the All-Defensive First Team on nine occasions.

Bryant sits as the Lakers all-time leader in regular season games played (1,346), points (33,643), three-pointers made (1,827), steals (1,944) and free throws made (8,378), while owning franchise playoff records for games played (220), points (5,640), three-pointers made (292) and free throws made (1,320).

By Staff of and news services

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