Kobe Bryant, who retired in 2016 after 20 years with the Lakers, wore 8 from 1996 to 2016 then 24 from 2006 to 2016.
Bryant joins an exclusive group of Lakers, including among others Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and Magic Johnson. No player in NBA history has ever had two jerseys retired until now.
CGTN’s May Lee was at the ceremony.
The 18 time All-Star, 5 time NBA Champion arrived at Staples Center looking more like a regular dad than a basketball legend, but he’s still every bit the superstar that fans around the world revere.
“I flew all the way from Pakistan across the whole world to see my favorite player Kobe.” said one avid fan. “I just came for this. It was a 20 hour flight just for Kobe because I love him that much.”
Before the halftime ceremony, Kobe talked to the media about the honor of retiring 2 jerseys with a bit of humor.
“8 has something that 24 will never ever ever have,” Bryant said. ” And that’s the ability to grow hair.”
At halftime of the Laker – Warriors game, the lights went down to honor a legend.
Magic Johnson, former Lakers player and now President, Los Angeles Lakers kicked things off: “We’re here to celebrate the greatest who’s ever wore the purple and gold.”
Bryant’s moment in the spotlight was a time to thank those who came before him and pass along a message to the younger generation about living the dream.
“Hopefully what you get out of tonight is the understanding that those times when you get up early and you work hard. those times when you stay up late and you work hard. Those times when you don’t feel like working, you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream. That is the dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. Thank you so much, I love you and… Mamba out!”
For a guy who’s only 39, having two jerseys retired is quite an accomplishment. And if you look at the numbers under both jerseys, it’s pretty staggering. With No. 8 Kobe won three NBA titles. As No. 24, he won 2 titles. All that in 20 years with just one team. Can’t get much better than that.