On this day in Los Angeles Lakers history, the late Kobe Bryant stood in the middle of the Staples Center floor watching his jerseys go up the rafters of the arena.
Bryant, who tragically died in a helicopter crash in January this year, became the 11th member of the Lakers organization to receive the honor. He joined the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal, among others.
But the five-time NBA champion is the only ever player to have had two jerseys retired, as there simply was no picking from his famous Nos. 8 and 24.
During the halftime ceremony of L.A.’s game against the Golden State Warriors, Bryant touched on topics close to his heart: legacy and inspiring future generations.
“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,” he 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 played 10 seasons wearing each jersey, scoring nearly the same number of points in each of them. He won three NBA titles donning the No. 8 uniform and two championships with the No. 24 on his back, alongside two Finals MVP Awards.
Bryant helped Wes Matthews cope with Achilles injury
Bryant’s career was shortened by the Achilles injury he suffered in 2013, a predicament Wesley Matthews, who joined the Lakers this offseason, faced in 2015.
And the guard revealed the Lakers legend helped him power through the lengthy layoff. “He didn’t have my number, we didn’t reach out any time before that, but I’m pulling into my driveway and I remember getting a call. I had no idea what this number is, and it’s Kobe,” he said.
“He was just sharing his wisdom about it and it helped motivate me because he was honest and he said it’s hard. He said it is going to be hard. “At the time that’s not what you want to hear but it’s what I needed to hear. I didn’t want anything sugarcoated. I wanted to know what I was going to have to go through. That helped, and he was always an outlet for me.”
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