Bryant will become the 10th player in Los Angeles Lakers history to have a number joining Wilt Chamberlain (13), Elgin Baylor (22), Gail Goodrich (25), Earvin “Magic” Johnson (32), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33), Shaquille O’Neal (34), James Worthy (42), Jerry West (44) and Jamaal Wilkes (52).
All are members of the Basketball Hall of Fame. A player must be fully retired for four full seasons before being eligible to be selected for the Hall of Fame. Bryant will be eligible to be selected in 2021.
“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,” Bryant in September when the Lakers announced his numbers would be retired.
Bryant originally wore number 8 when he started his Lakers career in 1996, but switched to 24 after the 2005-06 season.
“Kobe’s jerseys are taking their rightful home next to the greatest Lakers of all time,” team CEO and controlling owner Jeanie Buss said. “There was never any doubt this day would come, the only question was when.”
A street festival dubbed Kobeland will be held from 4-7 p.m. on Chick Hearn Court at L.A. Live in connection with the jersey retirements. Admission is free and open to the public. A ticket to the game is not required.
The festival will include a variety of interactive games, a Bryant- inspired Ferris wheel, a basketball shootout, photo opportunities, branded merchandise and a live DJ.
The Roy’s Restaurant chain will mark the jersey retirements by cutting the price of its Misoyaki butterfish entree from $41 to $24 at all 17 of its locations Monday and Tuesday.
Roy’s will donate $8 from the sale of each order of the entree Monday and Tuesday to the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of youth and families in need.
Bryant retired after the 2015-16 season, scoring 60 points in his final game. He ended his career with 33,643 points, the third most in league history, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928).
Bryant officially became a Laker on July 1, 1996, when the team completed a previously agreed-to trade with the Charlotte Hornets, who had chosen him five days earlier with the 13th choice in the NBA draft as part of the trade agreement with the Lakers.
He played his entire career with the Lakers, helping the team win five NBA championships.
Bryant’s 20 seasons played with one organization is an NBA record. He is among five players to play at least 20 seasons in the league, along with Kevin Garnett, Robert Parish and Kevin Willis, who all played 21, and Abdul- Jabbar, who played 20.
Bryant was the league’s MVP in the 2007-2008 season, received All-NBA honors 15 times, including 11 first-team selections, and was chosen to play in the league’s All-Star Game 18 times.
“Kobe’s impact on this franchise is immeasurable,” said Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, who had been Bryant’s agent. “Kobe carried the torch for the Lakers for 20 seasons, keeping the franchise at the forefront of the NBA.
“Beyond the championship banners and individual accolades, Kobe’s `Mamba Mentality’ is something the Lakers will always try to emulate. It alone daily inspires all of us to strive for greatness.
“Kobe’s loyalty and dedication to his craft make him one of the most iconic superstars in sports history. The full impact he has on this game and on future generations will not be fully recognized for a long, long time.”
—City News Service
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