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Arts and Entertainment

Lakers Reportedly Set To Retire Kobe Bryant's Jerseys In December [Updated]

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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[Update: 12:03 p.m.]

A source told ESPN that both of Kobe Bryant's jerseys—the number 8 and number 24—will be retired. That's kinda nuts but we'll take it.

[10:30 a.m.]

The Lakers have sent out a message to season ticket holders, telling them to "hold on to your tickets for the game on Dec. 18" for a "special event." As for what that special event may be, TMZ reports that multiple sources have told them that Kobe Bryant’s jersey will be retired that day.

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Certainly, the jersey retirement for Bryant was inevitable. But now the question looms as to which number jersey will be hung up above the Staples Center. Will it be the number 8 shirt, with which Bryant entered the league, established himself as a superstar, and bagged three titles in the process? Or will it be number 24, with which he won another two titles, this time without the help of Shaquille O'Neal (Bryant also got the league MVP nod with that number).

Past comments seem to suggest that he was going with the latter. According to a 2013 write-up by the OC Register, Bryant had told them that he leaned towards 24. “When the day comes that Kobe Bryant’s jersey is retired by the Lakers, it will go on the Staples Center wall as No. 24, not No. 8,” said the OC Register, adding, “That’s Bryant’s preference, and so it shall be.” The Bleacher Report also suggests that, with the 24 number, Bryant felt a larger sense of ownership over his accomplishments, as they happened outside of the shadow of O’Neal, with whom Bryant had a famously not-so-cosy relationship with. Their purported feud was even too much for former teammate Dennis Rodman, who provided CBS with this hilariously unhelpful take on the pair (it’s been heavily censored): “I couldn’t deal with them. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m not used to this,’ right? I’m used to winning, but I can’t deal with these [expletives expletive-ing] every [expletive] game.Like, [expletive]. I mean, every, I’m like, [expletive], we’re winning, what? So I go and I say … ‘I’m so used to having calm and serenity and stuff like that.’”

As for why Bryant changed his jersey number at the beginning of the 2006-2007 season, the more popular reason is that he’d worn 24 during his nascent high school days. Though, some conspiracy theorists and armchair numerologists have claimed that it’s an inside jab at Michael Jordan, who’s most commonly associated with the number 23. Which is to say: 23 plus one equals 24.

So, yeah, there’s a lot of conjecture in the air right now, from what will actually happen on December 18, to which jersey will get hung up alongside those of greats such as Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson (and Shaq!). If there’s one certainty, it’s that it’ll be expensive/tough to snag tickets for the game if you’re not a season ticket holder; not only are they (reportedly) retiring Bryant’s jersey, they’ll also be playing Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.