Kobe Bryant's Preference Is to Have No. 24 Jersey Retired Instead of No. 8

Sean Hojnacki@@TheRealHojnackiFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2013

Kobe Bryant sent shock waves around the Los Angeles Lakers universe when he told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com that next season would be his last.

Whether you believe Bryant on his retirement timeline, less than a week later, we now know which of his two jersey numbers he wants raised to the rafters at Staples Center. 

According to Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register, Kobe has decided on No. 24: "When the day comes that Kobe Bryant's jersey is retired by the Lakers, it will go on the Staples Center wall as No. 24, not No. 8. That's Bryant's preference, and so it shall be." 

The sound of Kobe stating which of his jerseys he would like to be retired—the old-school No. 8 or the relatively new No. 24—is barely audible over the roar of aghast Lakers fans screaming in horror at the prospect of life without the Black Mamba. 

Still, choosing which number to retire presents an interesting decision. Unlike Michael Jordan, who was associated much more closely with No. 23 than No. 45, neither of Bryant's numbers seem to carry more weight than the other, though both jerseys have deep significance in NBA lore.

Kobe ascended to greatness as No. 8. He won three titles in that uniform, and one night in January of 2006, he sliced up the Toronto Raptors for 81 points. 

That offseason, he switched to his old number from high school, No. 24, which helps mark the trajectory of his career.

No. 24 did it without Shaquille O'Neal, delivering two more titles to Jerry Buss, the last one coming in a sublime seven-game series against the rival Boston Celtics.

Bryant understandably feels more ownership over No. 24, much like an adolescent who changes his or her name. He's also donned the triple-eight for many of his career milestones, such as passing the late, great Wilt Chamberlain for fourth on the all-time scoring list.

In the end, what Kobe wants, Kobe gets. His No. 24 will take its place among the franchise's other legendary jerseys, though it hopefully won't be backwards like Shaq's

Regardless of which jersey Bryant wants hung up, no Laker is likely to wear either number ever again: 

Of course, they could just hang up three No. 8 jerseys and call it even, but that seems unlikely.

Kobe wants his No. 24 retired because it's more his own, uncontaminated by the star power of O'Neal and Phil Jackson. 

And so it shall be.