On December 18, 2017, The Los Angeles Lakers retired both the number 8 and the number 24. These numbers belong to the one, the only, Kobe Bryant.
Kobe Bryant successfully conquered his journey in 20 seasons in the NBA. For ten years he wore the number 8 and the other ten he wore the number 24.
The two numbers represented two different players, but the same icon.
The Number “8”
The beginning of the Black Mamba’s journey started with getting traded on draft day to the Los Angeles Lakers. Playing next to players such as Derek Fisher and Shaquille O’Neal, it seemed the Mamba would be just fine.
This beast was the more athletic of the two and had to find his way in the league.
Playing against an older Michael Jordan it was like seeing two spirits in one. The same drive, and the same competitor.
Playing in an older league, this beast had to adjust to the physicality that was basketball. This Beast was like no other. A young buck, he took the league by storm. In only 10 years in the league, he was already in the conversation of being in the Hall of Fame.
During the number 8 era, we were able to see the unstoppable duo of Shaq and Kobe.
They were able to win 3 titles in four years. Many critics believed this Kobe was not that good because he won all his titles playing next to such a dominant teammate. “Shaq carried Kobe,” they say. So Kobe had to prove himself a different way.
Kobe had to show the critics he could ball, and he did just that against Toronto.
Kobe put on a scoring performance of the ages scoring 81 points in a game. He had the drive and the will to be a force in the league and everyone could feel it coming.
The Number “24”
This Beast was the smarter of the two. More experienced and familiar with the NBA this Mamba had all the tricks up his sleeve. Even though this beast was the less athletic of the two, his basketball IQ and footwork kept him as one of the strongest presences in the league.
With the style of play taking a full turn, this beast had to no problem adjusting to the “new NBA.” Playing against young stars like Kevin Durant and Lebron James, this beast had to teach the young kids a lesson.
This Beast kept up the legend that was his career. Having to overcome some injuries late in his journey, this beast proved to be the strongest.
During the number 24 era, we saw a beast standing alone. We saw the complete duo of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Gasol was not the player Shaq was, but the chemistry and love these players played with each other lead them to complete back to back championships. One coming against the Boston Celtics a longtime rival of the Lakers.
Two different legends, Same Beast.
Even though it was a totally different 10 years for each beast, the consistency of Kobe’s Career will always be unmatched.
In the picture below, you can see the almost identical numbers between the two.
Kobe played 20 seasons in the NBA splitting the 10 years into 2 different players. One wearing the number 8 and one wearing the number 24. In a total of 1346 games in his career, Kobe averaged 25 points per game alongside 5.2 rebounds and 4.7.
Also in his career, Kobe also knew when to come up in clutch situations. Kobe Bryant had his fair share of clutch shots.
Kobe Bryant was a whole different animal. He was The Black Mamba. There will never be anyone like him. His hard work separated him from the competition.
Whether it is screaming his name when you throw a paper ball in a trash can or just looking back on his career, Kobe will always be remembered as one of the all-time greats.