This day in Los Angeles Lakers history saw the franchise honor Kobe Bryant by retiring his Nos. 8 and 24 jerseys during a halftime ceremony at Staples Center. Bryant became the 11th to receive the honor from the organization but first with two numbers to hang in the rafters.
While the Lakers historically have only retired a number once a player reached the Hall of Fame, they made an exception for Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant. O’Neal’s No. 34 was retired on April 2, 2013, to ensure late owner Jerry Buss could witness it.
Jeanie then made the decision to retire Bryant’s jerseys prior to the 2018 NBA All-Star Game being played 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.”
Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom and O’Neal were among Bryant’s former teammates who were present for the ceremony. Some Golden State Warriors players came out of the locker room early to take in the moment, with Kevin Durant congratulating the five-time champion on his way off the court.
As it would unfortunately become later known, the Lakers retiring Bryant’s two jerseys prior to a Hall of Fame induction ensured he was on hand for the honor. Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers tragically died in a helicopter accident in January 2020.