LBS- According to a report by TMZ Sports on Tuesday, the Lakers front office will meet to decide which of the two numbers to ultimately lift to the Staples Center rafters.
“We have had a couple very casual and preliminary conversations internally about this over the past few years,” TMZ quoted a Lakers spokesperson as saying. “But now that Kobe has officially announced a retirement date, I anticipate we will discuss this more formally in the coming weeks and months.”
Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times also added on Tuesday that Bryant said he has no particular preference as to which number the team retires.
The 37-year-old Bryant wore the No. 8 jersey for his first ten seasons in the NBA, from the time he was drafted in 1996 until 2006. Over that span, he won his first three NBA championships, established himself as a bona fide superstar in the league, and registered some of the most iconic moments of his career (including his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors). Bryant then switched to the No. 24, winning another two championships (this time sans Shaquille O’Neal), two Finals MVP awards, and his lone regular season MVP award. Upon his retirement in 2016, Bryant will have played in that jersey number for a total of ten seasons as well.
Okay, let's make this crystal clear. There is one person that should be deciding which one of Kobe Bryant's numbers to retire, and that is Kobe Bryant himself. Hey Kobe, maybe take two seconds away from airballing 26 foot three pointers on your non-retirement tour retirement tour to stop being an indecisive dickhead and pick a number, annnny fucking number. The reason that Bryant is the one that has to choose is quite simple. It's pretty much the same reason you hire an interior designer. Not only are they the ones that should know better, but they are the ones that you trust know better. Ever tried decorating your own apartment? You have that one piece of art that you actually like and you know has to go up, but once you finally put it up you constantly question where you put it, even if you never actually change it's location. That uncertainty can drive a man crazy. An aesthetically challenged man like myself doesn't know where shit should go just like a basketball franchise doesn't know which era of their superstar's career they should embrace. You just know that if they chose '8' they would always be wondering if it should have been '24' and if they chose '24' they would always be wondering if it should have hung up '8'. Kobe needs to step up, be the control freak he's been damn near his whole career, and pick a fucking decade to celebrate. Not leave it in the hands of a couple of front office members that have driven the Lakers franchise straight into the doldrums.
Hey, I know it's not easy. As crazy as it sounds, seeing as he won three straight championships wearing the number 8, it's actually a hell of a debate. Was Kobe really even Kobe until he switched up his number and had a team to call his own? You can make the argument that he wasn't. You can make the argument that Kobe cemented his legacy after Shaq left and he was carrying putrid teams to the playoffs. You can argue the back-to-back championship teams that he can call his own are what actually make him one of the greatest of all time. You can argue that his most impressive feats came while he was 'The Black Mamba'. You can argue that he developed that true killer instinct while wearing the number 24. Then again, you can also argue that he 3-peated with one of the greatest teams of all time wearing number 8. It's really to close to call, and I am glad it's not up to me to do it, but it shouldn't be up to Lakers executives either, it should be up to Kobe, and only Kobe.