Kobe Bryant jersey retirement: Both numbers likely to be retired by Lakers

By @saihoops on
Kobe Bryant jersey retirement, Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal's #34 jersey is revealed next to other retired jerseys during a ceremony to retire jersey #34 in honor of O'Neal during halftime of the NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Los Angeles, April 2, 2013. Reuters / Danny Moloshok

The Los Angeles Lakers will retire Kobe Bryant's jersey number(s) ahead of a regular season game against the Golden State Warriors at the Staples Center on Dec. 18, according to a report. Bryant, who led the Lakers to five championships, retired from the sport at the end of the 2015-16 NBA season. 

TMZ Sports reported Monday night that the Lakers plan to honour Bryant with a special event on Dec. 18. "Christmas is coming early for Kobe Bryant — the Lakers are planning to retire his jersey before the Warriors game on Dec. 18," multiple sources told TMZ Sports.

"The Lakers aren’t officially acknowledging it — but the team sent a letter to Lakers season ticket holders advising them to 'hold on to your tickets for the game on Dec. 18' for a 'special event.' We’ve made some calls and everyone’s saying the same thing … it’s Kobe’s big night," the report adds.

Kobe Bryant jersey retirement: Will both jerseys go up the rafters?

The 39-year-old Bryant will become the 10th player in Purple & Gold franchise history to have his jersey retired, joining the likes of Elgin Baylor, Jamaal Wilkes, Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Shaquille O’Neal. In 2013, the Lakers honoured O'Neal, who was Bryant's teammate during the team's three consecutive championship victories between 1999 and 2002.

Bryant sported two numbers during his illustrious career: No. 8 and No. 24. He wore the former during the first ten seasons of his career (1996-97 to 2005-06). Bryant sported No. 24 for the rest of his career, switching jerseys at the start of the 2006-0-7 season. There's debate as to which number the Lakers will raise to the rafters. 

Since Bryant won multiple championships wearing both jerseys, Lakers Nation speculates that the team could retire both numbers. "Now the only question that remains is if they will retire No. 8, 24 or both, although it will likely be both as no player has worn either number since him and he had so many monumental moments with both numbers."

Last year, the San Antonio Spurs honoured Tim Duncan with a special night to honour the legendary big man. Kobe Bryant averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists during his 20-year career in Los Angeles.