BY: Cameron Haires
On December 8th, 2018, Kobe Bryant will have both his playing numbers, 8 and 24, retired in Staples Center. Over his 20-year career, he’s amassed over 30,000 points, has 17 all-star team selections, and won 5 NBA titles. If that’s not impressive enough, he’s done it all being loyal to the same team.
His career is not just defined by his statistics, not at all. He has grown as a person throughout his time wearing 8 and 24. In the 1997 playoffs vs the Utah Jazz, Kobe shot four air balls in a losing effort. While people laughed at him leaving the court, his former teammate, Shaquille O’Neal, told him: “One day, they’ll be afraid of you taking those shots.”
That whole offseason, Bryant spent his late nights shooting shots until the sun came up. He would go on to win three straight championships with O’Neal, while being recognized as a key piece of one of the best NBA teams ever, before he got traded to the Miami Heat. At the beginning of the 2016 season, which was also his 10th year in the league, he switched his jersey number from 8 to 24.
After the jersey number change, Bryant would develop himself to become better and prove he can win without Shaquille O’Neal. He even named himself “black mamba,” which is essentially his alter ego whenever he steps onto the court. Although he would win two more championships back to back before retiring, his defining career moment would be his last game in which he scored 60 points in a come-from-behind victory against the Jazz. Bryant truly stands out as one of the greatest athletes of this generation proving how far hard work and dedication can take one.