TMZ announced late Monday night that the Los Angeles Lakers are planning to retire the jersey of Kobe Bryant on Dec. 18 when they host the Golden State Warriors.
Bryant getting his jersey retired comes as no surprise, but from there the next question that arose is which jersey number the Lakers will retire, as Bryant had some many iconic moments wearing both the No. 8 and 24.
That was cleared up Tuesday morning when it was reported that they would be retiring both numbers, making Bryant the first player in NBA history to have two jerseys retired by the same team.
Bryant played 707 games wearing No. 8, averaging 23.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists while winning three championships. He also was named to eight All-Star games and won two scoring titles with that number.
He played fewer games in the No. 24, but his statistics were slightly better as in 638 games he averaged 26.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists. He won two more championships while being named to 10 All-Star games in addition to winning two more scoring titles with 24 on his back. Additionally, his lone NBA MVP award and his two Finals MVPs came wearing 24.
It’s easy to see that he personified greatness wearing both numbers, so our staff decided to debate which number Bryant had a better career wearing in this week’s Lakers Nation Roundtable:
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH):
I hate having to decide which Kobe was better between no. 8 and 24 as both were truly outstanding and had so many accomplishments.
Kobe scored over 16,000 points in both jerseys. He won two scoring titles in each jersey. A couple more All-Star and All-NBA selections in 24, but one more Finals appearance and NBA Championship in no. 8. And we haven’t even gotten into the memorable moments.
81 points, 62 in 3 quarters, the lob to Shaq, the slam dunk title, playoff game winner against the Suns, clinching the division against the Blazers all came in no. 8. His lone MVP, finally vanquishing the Celtics, not flinching against Matt Barnes, the torn achilles free throws, 60 in his final game all came in no. 24.
In the end, I’m going to edge number 24 simply on the fact that he was the clear lead dog on the championship teams, not to mention the Finals against the Celtics was his toughest Finals match-up he overcame. Regardless, both numbers are deserving of being retired and the Lakers are doing the right thing by doing so.
Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane):
If I had to pick a number that Kobe had a better career in, I would lean slightly towards 24. It was in that jersey that we saw him develop as a leader without Shaquille O’Neal around and hit a new level of play as the team’s top dog. He was unquestionably the man in 24, and the fact that he had the most incredible final game ever wearing that number is just the icing on the cake.
That said, it shouldn’t be overlooked that even if you were to split Bryant’s career in two, he would still make it into the Hall of Fame with either 8 or 24. That’s incredible, and illustrates just how spoiled we all were to have him in Los Angeles for two decades.
Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand):
Kobe gave us so many great moments wearing both numbers, but if I had to choose which one he was better in I would have to say No. 8. Kobe grew into a star right before our eyes wearing No. 8 while winning his first three championships alongside Shaquille O’Neal.
The stats may be a bit skewed in favor of No. 24 because Bryant’s first two seasons of his career weren’t that great, but whenever I think of Bryant’s greatest moments a lot of them came with 8 on his back. His 81-point game, his 62 point game in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks, and countless great playoff moments were all before he made the switch to 24. In that 2005-06 season Bryant was arguably at the peak of his career, averaging 35.4 points per game and he was No. 8.
No. 24 was great, but No. 8 was the true cold-blooded assassin that Laker fans fell in love with.
Eric Avakian (@EAvakian5):
In my opinion, No. 8 Kobe had a better career. The beginning of his career is what shaped the player and champion he would become. After constant displays of grit and determination, he and Shaquille O’Neal led the Lakers to three championships.
My personal favorite Bryant moment was the series changing take over late against the Indiana Pacers when O’Neal fouled out. That was Bryant’s coming out party and when he truly developed into a star.