Kobe Bryant Explains His Jersey Numbers Ahead of Lakers Retirement

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2017

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant gestures during the first half of Bryant's last NBA basketball game, against the Utah Jazz, on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Kobe Bryant will be the first player in NBA history to have two different numbers retired by the same team when his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys go into the rafters Monday night.

According to Baxter Holmes of ESPN, his original number came from Adidas ABCD Camp, 143, whose digits add up to 8, as well as the number he wore in Italy. The Lakers star switched to No. 24 in the 2006-07 season, the number he had in high school at Lower Merion.

While he was the same player in both jerseys, the Lakers star explained the different mentality between the two eras.

"When I first came in at 8, is really trying to 'plant your flag' sort of thing," Bryant said. "I got to prove that I belong here in this league. I've got to prove that I'm one of the best in this league. You're going after them. It's nonstop energy and aggressiveness and stuff."

The number change became a "clean slate" after Shaquille O'Neal was traded in 2004. With it came a new mindset from the future Hall of Famer.

"Then 24 is a growth from that," he explained. "Physical attributes aren't there the way they used to be, but the maturity level is greater. Marriage, kids. Start having a broader perspective being one of the older guys on the team now, as opposed to being the youngest. Things evolve."

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Bryant had similar statistics in each of the two subsections of his career. He had 16,777 points as No. 8, winning three titles and earning eight All-Star appearances. As No. 24, he had 16,866 points, went to 10 All-Star Games and won his other two titles.

His also won a scoring title while wearing each number.

The success in each stage made it impossible for the Lakers to only retire one of his numbers, giving Bryant double the honors this week.

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