Jazzmen Mitchell, O’Neale Call For NBA To Retire Bryant’s Numbers League-Wide
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Jazz players Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale called for the NBA to retire basketball legend Kobe Bryant’s jersey numbers league-wide.
Mitchell and O’Neale shared their feelings on social media after news broke that Bryant had passed away in a helicopter crash on the morning of Sunday, January 26.
During his 20 year NBA career, Bryant wore the No. 8 and No. 24 on his Los Angeles Lakers jerseys.
Bryant retired from basketball after the 2015-16 season.
On December 18, 2017, the Lakers retired both jersey numbers during a halftime ceremony.
“What we’re celebrating tonight is the journey that you took us on for those 20 years,” said Lakers president Jeannie Buss to Bryant. “We are retiring both your numbers, because if you separated each of the accomplishments under those numbers, each of those players would qualify for the Hall of Fame.”
Bryant entered the league in 1996 and wore No. 8 for ten seasons.
“When I first came in at 8, is really trying to ‘plant your flag’ sort of thing,” Bryant told ESPN in 2017. “I got to prove that I belong here in this league. I’ve got to prove that I’m one of the best in this league. You’re going after them. It’s nonstop energy and aggressiveness and stuff.”
Before the 2006-07 season, the Lakers guard changed his jersey number to No. 24.
“Then 24 is a growth from that,” Bryant continued. “Physical attributes aren’t there the way they used to be, but the maturity level is greater. Marriage, kids. Start having a broader perspective being one of the older guys on the team now, as opposed to being the youngest. Things evolve.”
The Jazz organization issued a statement on Sunday afternoon after Bryant’s passing.
“We are shocked and saddened to learn about today’s tragedy involving Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” the Jazz wrote.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban released a statement stating that No. 24 will never be worn by a Mavericks player ever again in tribute to Kobe Bryant.
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