Monday night was the night the Lakers said thank you to Kobe Bryant. Everything went to plan except for the fact the game went into overtime.
With his family in tow the Bryant’s exited the building mere seconds after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed the final shot of the game that force the Lakers and Warriors into OT. As Bryant headed home the Warriors rallied and eventually beat LA 116-114.
The Lakers losing was a side note in effect. The night belonged to Kobe and the whole building was there for that.
Being such a dominant force for the Lakers over the years he was asked if young Kobe playing in his number 8 jersey, were to take on the more mature, older Kobe, who would win the game?
Kobe’s answer: “I kind of go back and forth,” he said: “But 8 has something that 24 will never, ever, ever have, and that’s the ability to grow hair.”
It would be a tough call for sure, and the Lakers organization agreed so, they honored the franchises leading scorer by retiring both the number 8 and 24 jerseys.
With Bryant’s former teammates Shaquille O’Neal and Derek Fisher in attendance Bryant said: “I feel great,” adding: “I’m very proud I get to come here with my family. It feels good as a father to have my family come in and share this.”
He joins some true legends with his shirt being retired but he made the point that: “It’s not about the jerseys that are hanging up there for me,” Bryant told the cheering crowd. “It’s about the jerseys that were hanging up there before. They inspired me to play the game at a high level.”
Both Magic Johnson and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss were there to honor Bryant with Magic saying: “We’re here to celebrate the greatest who ever wore the purple and gold,” high praise indeed.
While owner Buss said: “I thank you for staying loyal to the purple and gold and remaining a Laker for life when it might have been easier for you to leave.”