Updated Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, 7:10 p.m. EDT: Sources have confirmed to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the Los Angeles Lakers will be retiring both of Kobe Bryant’s jersey numbers, 8 and 24, during the ceremony Dec. 18.
ESPN notes that the Lakers usually don’t retire a player’s jersey until he is inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, but although Bryant is not yet eligible for that, the team is confident that he will make the cut.
Congratulations again, Kobe. You earned it.
Kobe Bryant is set to become the 10th player from the Los Angeles Lakers to have his jersey retired, just two seasons after his retirement from the sport of basketball, when the team has a retirement ceremony later this fall.
Bryant will join the ranks of Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, James Worthy, Jerry West and Jamaal Wilkes, the Los Angeles Times reports. The ceremony will take place Dec. 18, prior to the team’s matchup with in-state rivals the Golden State Warriors.
Bryant wore two numbers during his tenure with the Lakers. He wore No. 8 at the beginning of his career and switched to No. 24 during the 2006-2007 season, and it is unclear which of those numbers will be the one to be retired. No. 24 was still his number when he retired in 2015.
Bryant played with the Lakers for his entire 20-year career, beginning in 1996, when the Lakers traded Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for draft rights to the then-17-year-old. Bryant helped the Lakers win five NBA championships, and he was named NBA Finals MVP for two of those. He played in the NBA All-Star game 18 times, and he was the league MVP in 2008.
Even as injuries betrayed his body later in his career, during his final game in a Lakers jersey, Bryant scored a remarkable 60 points—23 of those in the first quarter.
Comparisons to Michael Jordan followed him his entire career, and he is considered one of the greatest to ever play the game.
As the Times notes, since his retirement, Bryant has served as an adviser to Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.
He told the Times last year: “The Lakers are my family. I’ll always be available for Jeanie and the whole organization. They know I’m only a phone call away.”
Read more at the Los Angeles Times.