Appearing as a guest on the popular podcast Knuckleheads, Kobe Bryant shared details about why he switched his jersey from 8 to 24.
Probably, one of the greatest players to ever play the sport of basketball, Kobe played his entire NBA career for the LA Lakers. In his 20 seasons with the team, he brought the city of LA 5 NBA championships, including a 3-peat as well.
In his Hall of Fame career, the 2x Finals MVP wore 2 jerseys number, 8 and 24. Kobe entered the league as one of the highest touted high-school players in 1996.
In the first 10 seasons with the Lakers, the superstar wore the no 8 on his jersey. The superstar while explaining the significance of the no 8 said,
“When I first came in at 8, is really trying to ‘plant your flag’ sort of thing. I got to prove that I belong here in this league. I’ve got to prove that I’m one of the best in this league. You’re going after them. It’s nonstop energy and aggressiveness and stuff.”
However, after winning 3 championships with the Lakers, Kobe shifted to the no 24 that marked the beginning of a new era in his career.
“With Shaq gone, I had to provide leadership”: Kobe Bryant’s detailed explanation regarding jersey numbers
While appearing as a guest on the Knuckleheads Podcast, Kobe gave a detailed explanation as to why he switched jersey numbers.
Kobe Bryant wore No. 8 for the first 10 seasons of his career before making the switch to No. 24 following the 2005-06 season.
Both of his jerseys were retired by the Lakers which made him the first player in NBA history to have two numbers retired by the same team. pic.twitter.com/uA7XaKGJhF
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 27, 2020
“A couple of things,” said Kobe, “24 is number I wore in high school, my freshman year I wore 24, and then philosophically for me, it carried a significance for me as to approaching my day as if it was my last and I had to have that mentality because it shifts.”
Kobe further added, “With Shaq gone, I have to drive this team every day, there’s no day-offs every time I come to practice we’re gone and every time I look at that number is like today is the most important day. Today is the day, right it’s one day that’s it and helps me stay locked in.”
During his first 9 seasons with the Lakers, Kobe emerged as a generational talent. The iconic duo of the Lakers, Kobe, and Shaquille O’ Neal 3-peated as champions from 2000-2002.
However, post-Shaq’s exit from the franchise the 18x All-Star decided to switch his jersey no from 8 to 24 at the beginning of the 2006-07 season.
According to ESPN, it was Kobe’s way to start everything fresh after being involved in several controversies. Kobe himself revealed:
“It’s kind of a clean slate. I started new. Just start completely fresh, focus on the number that meant a lot to me.”
The new era of Kobe’s career began in 2004, which saw him winning back-to-back championships and be crowned Finals MVP in both cases. Kobe also won his first regular-season MVP in 2008 and was a back-to-back scoring champion as well, 2007-08.
While everyone has their individual favorite Kobe era aligning with his jersey no. When asked to choose between the two, the superstar chose 8. Both 8 and 24 hang at the rafters of the Staples Center.