Kobe Bryant stood at center court as his jersey no. 8 and 24 were both retired during halftime at Monday’s game against Golden State.
Prior to the ceremony, Bryant’s short film Dear Basketball was displayed throughout the Staples Center arena. As the crowd chanted Kobe’s name, Magic Johnson, the President of Basketball Operations and good friend of Bryant, took the mic.
“We’re here to celebrate the greatest who’s ever worn the purple and gold,” Johnson said. “For 20 years, he thrilled us; he made us scratch our heads (and say), ‘What did we just see? What did we just witness?’ And he gave us five NBA championships.”
When the mic was passed to Lakers Owner and President Jeanie Buss, she read off several letters of appreciation the Laker fans had addressed to Kobe.
“What we’re celebrating tonight is the journey that you took us on for those 20 years,” Buss said 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.”
As the two curtains pulled back, separating slowly, they revealed Bryant’s No. 8 and 24 jerseys among earlier legendary Laker playmakers.
A thankful Kobe Bryant stepped up to the spotlight to give his appreciation to the late Dr. Jerry Buss and his fans as well as the great ball legends who came before him.
“It’s also about the next generation,” Bryant said. “It’s about this current Laker roster that we have here. It’s about embodying the spirit that exists in those jerseys up there and carrying this organization forward so that the next 20 years are better than the past 20 years.”
During his 20 seasons with the team, Bryant led the Lakers for five championships and won two NBA Finals MVP awards, and retires in the number three in all-time NBA points.