There were several iconic moments during the twenty-year illustrious career of Kobe Bryant, and it continues even after his retirement.
There was the incredible 81-point performance against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006, the four consecutive 50-point-game streak, the nine consecutive 40-point games, the several game-winners, acrobatic dunks, trash-talking, multiple titles, All-Star appearances as well as MVP titles, the slam-dunk title, the scoring titles, the all-NBA selections, the five titles, and the 60-point performance in his final game for the Lakers. All were defining moments in the legendary career of the 6 feet 6 inches shooting guard for the Lakers franchise.
Monday night of December 18, 2017 was another legendary moment as the Los Angeles Lakers retired not one but two of Bryant’s jerseys, numbers 8 and 24, which he wore for 10 equal seasons during his 20-year career for the Lakers. The jersey-retirement ceremony was held during halftime of a Lakers versus Golden State Warriors game at the Staples Center.
Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, and three daughters, as well as members of the Lakers family, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, Jeanie Buss, and Rob Pelinka, were on hand to bestow the honor on the third-highest scorer in NBA history as numbers 8 and 24 were lifted to the rafters at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, California.
Shaq, Magic, Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Derek Fisher, Jerry West, James Worthy, Elgin Baylor, Allen Iverson and, of course, Jack Nicholson were all in a building that was packed to capacity reminiscent of a play-off game.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 19, 2017
The hours before the jersey-retirement ceremony was filled with emotional tributes from former teammates, opponents, coaches, as well as friends and the media – all whom had stories and eulogies to share about the athlete regarded as one of the greatest of all time.
Bryant, also, had some things to share, particularly regarding the debate about which number characterized his greatest years.
“I kind of go back and forth (on which number he prefers),” Bryant said. “(No.) 8 has something that 24 will never, ever, ever, ever have, and that’s the ability to grow hair. So it’s tough …”
“It’s really, really tough for me,” he continued. “I think 24 was more challenging, and I tend to gravitate to things that are harder to do. Physically for me, it was really, really hard to get up night in and night out. It was a grind. Taking on the Boston Celtics (in the 2010 Finals), and having a bone fragment in my foot during that series, having a broken finger, muscling through that back half of the career. It was some of the toughest stretches of basketball ever, man. So I guess if you force me to pick one, I’d probably go 24 because of that.”
Bryant, who shared an insight on life in retirement during an interview, admitted his routine habit of early morning workouts has not ceased even though the activities after that are much different now.
“I think the most important thing is finding what you love to do. That’s the hardest part, and it took work. … It took a lot of work, a lot of soul searching, a lot of investigating, trying things out, but when you find what it is that you love to do then you wake up every morning with a sense of purpose. So my life has been great. I fell into a great routine. I work out at 5 o’clock every morning, take the kids to school, get some breakfast with my wife, go to the office, work there, pick the kids up. And then from there, it’s just volleyball here, basketball here, soccer there, you know what I mean? That’s my routine.”
The Lakers were unable to impress Bryant with a win on the eventful night as they lost in overtime to Warriors after Kevin Durant nailed a clutch jumber to give Golden State a 116-114 win.
— NBA (@NBA) December 19, 2017