The tragic and surprising death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant continues to have a tangible impact on the league. Teams have traded 8 or 24 second violations, in honor of the two numbers Bryant donned during his career. Tuesday night’s highly anticipated matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center had to be postponed due to the emotions surrounding the Lakers return to the court.
Now, players continue to honor Bryant’s once-in-a-lifetime legacy by beginning the process of informally retiring his jersey number(s). Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban kicked things off, announcing that no Mavericks player would ever wear the #24 again. A day later, two players announced they would change their jersey numbers in Bryant’s honor.
Spencer Dinwiddie, of the Brooklyn Nets, and Terrence Ross, of the Orlando Magic, had both been wearing #8 on their jerseys. But in the wake of Bryant’s death, they’ve chosen to swap their numbers out. The NBA has approved the jersey number changes, even though mid-season changes require special approval. The NBA will approve such changes on a “case-by-case” basis. It’s incredible the NBA is allowing players to have this freedom, but makes it puzzling to think the league wouldn’t allow LeBron James to change his jersey number coming into the season.
Dinwiddie took to social media to announce his change to a #26 jersey.
The Nets guard was emotional when talking about Bryant. He says Bryant told him in December that he was an All-Star in his eyes: and it’s all the validation Dinwiddie ever needed.
Magic guard Terrence Ross changed his jersey number from #8 to #31.
20 more players wear the #8, with 12 active players donning #24 on their jersey. (Credit to Marc Stein pointing this out, via Pro Basketball Reference.) Time will tell if more players make the switch, especially after the season’s end. Stein also points out (and I agree) that some players may feel they are honoring Bryant’s legacy by wearing one of his former numbers.
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