During the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors game Dec. 18, one of the best players to ever wear the purple and gold got not one but two jerseys retired.
Kobe Bryant is for sure one of the best Lakers in franchise history, but if you ask superstar Magic Johnson, he would say that Bryant is the best ever.
The ceremony warranted many current players and former players to reflect back on the greatness there was playing with and watching Kobe Bryant. The ceremony also started the debate of which Kobe jersey was the best Kobe? Was it Kobe wearing number 8 or was it Kobe wearing number 24?
Staples Center turned into a “this is your life, Kobe Bryant,” as his number 8 and number 24 jerseys were raised to the rafters. Bryant addressed the packed house at Staples Center at halftime as the Lakers took on the Warriors.
The young Lakers team gave him a good game to watch as they took the defending champion Warriors to overtime but ultimately lost the game by two points, 116-114.
That did not mean the young Lakers would not give us some highlights throughout the game and it seems Warriors superstar and defending finals Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant took the worst end of the stick as he was the victim of a couple of nasty poster dunks.
Bryant walked into Staples Center as he had done so many times before with the camera lights popping, video rolling and social media giving the world a live view of all of it. The excitement and hoopla was warranted, as the five-time NBA champion was headed for a night at Staples Center that was as special as when he won the 2010 NBA championship, dropped 81 points against the Toronto Raptors and scored 60 points in his last home game as a Laker.
Only this time Bryant was pushing a baby stroller with his new baby girl as well as his wife and two older girls. Lakers legend Johnson stopped to welcome him to the exclusive club.
The excitement of the jersey retirement was clear inside and outside the arena. During his jersey retirement ceremony, Bryant said, “It is not about the jerseys that are hanging up there for me. It is about the jerseys that were hanging up there before. Without them, I could not be here today. They inspired me to play the game at a high level.”
Outside Staples Center was also a sight to see. It was Kobe Land outside with a Ferris wheel with Bryant’s picture on it, amusement park type games, street vendors selling hot dogs wrapped in bacon, hip hop music blaring from the speakers and a gift shop for thousands of celebrating fans to buy all the superstar’s memorabilia they wanted.
Of course, there were some fake commemorative T-shirts being sold out of huge duffel bags as well, but it would not be right if there wasn’t. The tickets for the game were also expensive. If you wanted to be in the house to feel a part of that memorable moment, you were definitely going to pay for it.
The most expensive ticket was selling for $30,969 for a courtside seat, according to StubHub. The cheapest seat ticket lower level was $685.68, but there is a price to pay when you have a legendary night and many people want to be a part of it, directly or indirectly.
Nike even brought back the Kobe Bryant and LeBron James puppets to commemorate the night. Many current players joined in on social media to show their love and respect for everything that Bryant brought to the amazing game of basketball. Players like Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, and LeBron James all chimed in to share memories they had with Bryant during his 20 years.
Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.