Lakers set to honor Bryant in December

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LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Lakers will retire both jersey numbers worn by club legend Kobe Bryant before a December 18 game against NBA champions Golden State, the team said Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).

Bryant, an 18-time All-Star who won five NBA titles with the Lakers before retiring after the 2015-16 season, wore number eight in his first 10 seasons before switching to number 24 for another decade.

“As a kid growing up in Italy, I always dreamed of my jersey hanging in the Lakers rafters, but I certainly never imagined two of them,” Bryant said in a statement released by the team.

Former NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant attends a basketball teaching activity in Haikou in China’s southern Hainan province on Wednesday. Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant announced plans on September 12 for China’s first NBA basketball school, a development the 18-time All-Star says will improve the game in the country. AFP PHOTO

“The Lakers have bestowed a huge honor on me and I’m grateful for the fans’ enthusiasm around this game.”

In his two-decade career—all spent with the Laker—Bryant scored 33,643 points, the third-most in NBA history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone.

He’ll become the 10th Lakers player to have his number retired, joining Wilt Chamberlain (13), Elgin Baylor (22), Gail Goodrich (25), Magic Johnson (32), Abdul-Jabbar (33), Shaquille O’Neal (34), James Worthy (42), Jerry West (44) and Jamaal Wilkes (52).

“Kobe’s jerseys are taking their rightful home next to the greatest Lakers of all time,” Lakers chief executive and controlling owner Jeanie Buss said. “There was never any doubt this day would come, the only question was when. Once again, Lakers fans will celebrate our hero, and once again, our foes will envy the legendary Kobe Bryant.”

“This honor is very well deserved,” Lakers President of Basketball Operations Johnson said. “Kobe was one of the greatest Lakers and NBA players of all-time and he’s definitely on my Mount Rushmore. I look forward to seeing BOTH of his jerseys be retired and celebrating this special day with Kobe and his family.”

Bryant is the Lakers’ all-time leader in regular season games played (1,346), points (33,643), three-pointers made (1,827), steals (1,944) and free throws made (8,378), while owning club playoff records for games played (220), points (5,640), three-pointers made (292) and free throws made (1,320).

AFP

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