It wasn’t a matter of if — it was just a matter of when.
On Monday, the Lakers officially retired Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys, hanging them from the rafters in a ceremony at halftime of the team’s game against the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors chose to forego their normal halftime regimen in order to watch the ceremony, which was attended by former Lakers greats like Jerry West and Shaquille O’Neal.
The ceremony began with Kobe’s short film, “Dear Basketball,” played on the arena Jumbotron. Then Bryant was introduced by fellow Lakers jersey retiree Magic Johnson, and he was followed by Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. Following the introductions, Bryant’s jerseys were revealed, one on each side of former Lakers announcer Chick Hearn’s in the rafters of Staples Center.More information please click here
“Thank you so much for tonight. But it’s not about my jerseys that are hanging up there for me,” Bryant said to the crowd. “It’s about the jerseys that were hanging up there before. Without them, I couldn’t be here today. They inspired me to play the game at a higher level.
“It’s also about the fans. … I don’t think you guys understand how present you guys were with me. You guys were there at 5:30 in the morning when I was running the track and I was midway through my workout. I didn’t know if I could make it through, and I thought about the expectations you guys had for me, you had for our team. And it pushed me through.”
Bryant led the Lakers to five championships, three while wearing No. 8 and two while wearing No. 24, during his 20-season career. He’s the franchise leader in several categories, including points (33,643), games played (1,346), 3-pointers made (1,827) and steals (1,944).
Bryant won two NBA Finals MVP awards and one regular-season MVP, and he retired as No. 3 on the all-time NBA points list behind Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who also has his jersey retired by the Lakers.