Future Los Angeles Lakers players hoping to wear either No. 8 or No. 24 will have to think again. On Tuesday, the team confirmed to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that it will retire both numbers worn by Kobe Bryant in a ceremony ahead of a game against the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 18.
The team did not immediately give a reason for electing to honor both numbers. It had been wondered widely which number worn by Bryant the team would choose.
Bryant, who played with the Lakers for his entire 20-year career starting in 1996, had several illustrious seasons wearing both numbers. He began in No. 8, in which he went on to help the team to three NBA Finals victories in a row starting in the 1999-2000 season. Starting in the 2006-07 season, Bryant began to wear No. 24 — the first number he wore in high school. In this jersey, Bryant went on to lead the team to back-to-back NBA Finals victories in 2009 and 2010, racking up Finals MVP awards both times.
It appears Bryant will be the first NBA player to have two numbers retired in his name.
Bryant, who retired in 2016, will not, however, be the first NBA player to be honored with a number enshrinement ahead of schedule. According to Shelburne, the Lakers usually wait until players enter the Basketball Hall of Fame to bestow the honor. The team also sped up the process for Shaquille O’Neal, who had his jersey lifted into the rafters in 2013, two years after he retired but three years before he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Bryant has not publicly commented on the reports.