The Los Angeles City Council declared Wednesday Kobe Bryant Day, honoring the recently retired Los Angeles Laker on the date of the jersey numbers he wore with the team.
Chants of “Kobe, Kobe, Kobe” from a packed audience greeted Bryant as he appeared in the City Council chambers, accompanied by his family, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other city leaders.
“That unbreakable spirit that you have demonstrated since you were 17 years old in the city makes it easy on this 8/24, August 24, to declare Kobe Bryant Day in the City of Angels!” said Garcetti, who wore a purple tie to match one of the Laker team colors.
The date was chosen because Bryant wore the number 8 his first 10 seasons and 24 for the final 10.
Members of the City Council also led the audience to sing the “Happy Birthday Song” to Bryant, who celebrated his 38th birthday yesterday.
Councilman Jose Huizar noted the energy from fans who came to City Hall today to see their sports hero.
“I don’t believe in my 10 years here at City Council there has been a more exciting day than today … as we welcome Kobe Bryant on Mamba Day in the city of Los Angeles,” he said.
Bryant expressed gratitude for being able to play with his favorite team during his entire NBA career, and said when he first came to Los Angeles, he did not think he would be standing in City Council today receiving this honor.
“It’s a very surreal experience having a day named after you,” he said.
He added that “to spend 20 years with the same time, the team that was my dream team growing up as a kid, to spend my entire career wearing that golden armor has been a huge blessing and a huge honor.”
Garcetti described Bryant as “fiercely competitive,” much like Los Angeles, and “uncommonly loyal at a times when people switch teams like it is a new suit they are putting on.”
Huizar said Byrant should be admired not just because he is “unbelievably talented,” but because he “has taught all of us in Los Angeles that this city has a fighting spirit.”
“It doesn’t matter how down you are,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what hardships you face. You keep showing up, you keeping practicing, you keep going and yes you keep winning and here in L.A.”
Bryant played his entire 20-season career with the Lakers, helping them win five NBA championships, and was chosen as the NBA Finals MVP for both of the two most recent championships.
The 6-foot-6-inch Bryant, a guard for most of his career but listed as a forward-guard in his final season, scored 33,643 points, the third most in league history, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928).
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.
—Staff and wire reports