Growing up, if someone balled up a piece of paper and decided to shoot into the garbage all you would hear was “Kobe!”. Back In 1996 a young Afro-headed kid from Lower Merion High School came into the league. His name was Kobe Bryant. He was drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets and then traded to the Lakers. The story of number 8 takes off from there.
To start the millennium in 2000, Kobe led the Lakers to three consecutive championships. He went back to back to back. A little disappointing to me, as an Allen Iverson fan, watching the Lakers beat the Philadelphia Sixer’s in the finals in 2001. In 2002 the Lakers beat the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) in the finals. Among all his scoring titles, championships, all-star teams, All NBA first teams, Kobe fans will always cherish his 81 point game against Toronto in 2006 wearing the number 24.
The Black Mamba as he is famously known as was burdened to carry the Lakers to another championship. After the departure of Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers went on a drought until returning to the finals in 2008. After losing to Big 3 of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, Kobe returned the following year with a vengeance. In 2009 Kobe was once again a champion with a Finals MVP award to go along with it.
It saddens me that he isn’t in the league anymore because he was the last from the Golden Era of basketball. Players like him, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Steve Nash, Chauncey Billups, and others had a certain type of passion about the game that’s missing in my opinion. Kobe deserves to have both his number 8 and 24 jerseys retired. I’ve literally watched him give everything to this game. Congratulations Kobe.