With Kobe Bryant announcing that this will be his last season, there have been many discussion about which jersey the Los Angeles Lakers should retire. We witnessed a young, high-flying Kobe that rocked the number #8 and put opponents on posters, but we also saw the Black Mamba: a player that was more mature with a higher basketball IQ that led his team to championships. Everyone has their opinion, some say number 8 and some say number 24.
When it comes to Kobe the player, I choose 24 over 8, but when it comes to retiring his jersey, I believe the Los Angeles Lakers should retire both. It’s up to their management but it seems they’re not even sure about which number to retire. In an event with season ticket holders, GM Mitch Kupchak mentions the retiring of Kobe’s jersey.
“I don’t know the answer. Obviously it’s going to be 8, 24 or it could be both,”
Kobe has impacted the game immensely throughout his career and there’s no question about that. He’s given memorable moments in jersey #8 as well as #24. You can pull up his stats and put them side by side and they’re pretty much a mirror image. But when I think of his IMPACT to the game, there’s no number you can put on that.
Everyone enjoyed the kid with the afro. He helped win three straight titles and only lost a combined 3 games throughout those three Finals. This is also the kid who gave the world the second highest scoring output in a single game with 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. There were years where his team struggled. Many called Kobe selfish but he also had a lack of talent on his team, and he found himself doing whatever he could to get wins.
Then came the changeover to #24. This was the clean cut Kobe with the alter-ego of the Black Mamba. A vicious character with the scowl of a beast, who wanted nothing but hard work and perfection. He gave us a league MVP in 2008 (and should’ve won it two other years if you ask me but that’s neither here nor there). He also provided back to back championships and two Finals MVPs with Pau Gasol and company that really stamped his name in greatness.
We went through the ups and downs with Kobe throughout his career, but we’ve seen how much he has meant to the game. He has placed his stamp everywhere in the NBA and that’s why we’re seeing such a great out-pour of respect during this farewell tour. It’s no question that the Lakers should retire both numbers because simply put, it’s just the right thing to do. Both numbers mean so much to his legacy and they both have so much memory behind them.
Along with raising both numbers in the rafters, I also believe the Lakers should do it at the end of this season. Often when we show people our love and gratitude, it’s too late. We saw a similar situation with the late great Moses Malone. He passed earlier this year and the Philadelphia 76ers retired his jersey shortly after. There’s no question that Malone’s jersey should have already been retired, especially with the career he had in Philadelphia, but it was one of those unfortunate situations where the organization dropped the ball. However, this is a perfect situation for the Los Angeles Lakers to end the season and Kobe’s career on a high note by hanging both numbers in the rafters during their last home game.