There was never any doubt that Jeanie Buss and the Los Angeles Lakers would make sure Kobe Bryant had his jersey retired after one of the most legendary careers in team history.
Bryant owns countless records for the Lakers, including having the highest-scoring individual game in team history and being their all-time leading scorer, which are just a few of the nearly countless reasons that both of his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys now hang in the Staples Center rafters.
That Bryant’s jerseys were retired so quickly, however, less than two years after he hung them up for the final time, was somewhat of a surprise. If only because normally the Lakers wait until a player is inducted into the Hall of Fame before retiring their jersey.
But Lakers owner Jeanie Buss told Howard Beck of “The Full 48 Podcast” that the Lakers’ decision to hang up Bryant’s jersey was very intentional, because the organization wanted the game’s biggest stars to see
“A lot of that thought went into why we retired Kobe’s jersey this year. I wanted to make sure when the All-Star Game was here, his jerseys were up in the rafters to remind everybody of the legacy and career Kobe had.”
With Los Angeles looking to sign impact free agents this summer, the subtext of Buss’ comments are that the Lakers wanted the best players around the NBA to see how they treat their biggest stars.
The way the Lakers immortalized Bryant is a message to any would-be star that has aspirations to play in L.A.: Come to Los Angeles, and we won’t just make you a star. We’ll make you a legend.
The impact of the way the Lakers took care of Bryant during his farewell tour and retirement may not be felt this summer, but it could pay dividends for Buss and the team in years to come.