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“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 in an official statement. “The Lakers have bestowed a huge honor on me and I’m grateful for the fans’ enthusiasm around this game.”
The Black Mamba becomes the 10th Lakers player to have his number(s) retired, joining Wilt Chamberlain (13), Elgin Baylor (22), Gail Goodrich (25), Magic Johnson (32), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33), Shaquille O’Neal (34), James Worthy (42), Jerry West (44), and Jamaal Wilkes (52).
“This honor is very well deserved,” said 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.”
Bryant donned No. 8 until 2006 when he made the switch to No. 24, which was his original number competing at Lower Merion High School. He then wore No. 33 prior to entering the league, but since No. 33 had already been retired, and No. 24 was taken by a teammate, Bryant decided to wear No. 8.
During his legendary 20-year stint in purple and gold, Bryant won five championships with a pair of Finals MVPs, was an 18-time All-Star, and earned a spot on 11 All-NBA First Teams. He’s also the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer with 33,643 points, which is also the third most of any player ever.
Bryant’s numbers will be officially retired in a ceremony at halftime on Dec. 18 when the Lakers host the visiting Golden State Warriors.