The Los Angeles Lakers normally don’t retire a player’s number until he has been nominated for the Basketball Hall of Fame. They also normally only retire one set of digits.
The team broke both of those trends when they chose to retire both No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys Kobe Bryant wore during his 20-year career with the Lakers, a gesture he had a difficult time communicating the meaning of during a pregame address to the media at Staples Center.
“It’s hard to put into words. Growing up and watching all these great players play and learning so much from them, to now be apart of that wall, means everything to me,” Bryant said. “I think legacy is really important in the sense of what we’ve done is awesome.
“But I think what’s more important for a legacy is how that affects the next generation to come. The jerseys that are hanging in the rafters now, the impact that they had on me, which led to us being here in this moment now, that’s the true mark of a legacy is how well it impacts the next generation.”
Bryant is a Los Angeles sports legend, and having his jerseys retired doesn’t affect that status. What it does do, however, is give children too young to remember his career something to look at and ask their parents about, transferring his legacy down another generation.
The way the Lakers honored Bryant also sends a message to the young players on the team of just how hard they have to work to receive that type of recognition from any franchise, but especially one as storied as the Lakers.
In both of those ways, Bryant is accomplishing his goal of influencing and impacting the next generation of players that could eventually follow him into the pantheon of Lakers greats.
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERS NATION FORUM CLUB