The sports world was dealt a shocking loss yesterday as we learned basketball legend Kobe Bryant, along with his thirteen-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in California. Bryant was just 41 years old and only two weeks away from being elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, made the All-Star team 18 times, won 5 NBA championships, including two NBA Finals MVPs, two Olympic gold medals, and one NBA MVP in 2007-08. Up until the day before his untimely death, Bryant was third all-time in NBA scoring — LeBron James surpassed him on Saturday night.
Tributes poured in from across the sports world, many fans quickly suggesting the NBA change the silhouette used in its logo from Jerry West to Kobe. West has been “the logo” for nearly 50 years and has previously suggested that he wished that was no longer the case.
The Dallas Mavericks announced yesterday that they would be retiring Kobe’s number 24 despite the fact he never played for the team.
“Kobe’s legacy transcends basketball, and our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick”, Mavs owner Mark Cuban said.
“We are shocked and saddened by the devastating news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. Kobe was an ambassador for our game, a decorated legend and a global icon. Above all, he was a loving and dedicated father.”
Kobe’s numbers 8 and 24 had already been retired by the Los Angeles Lakers. We have seen a team retire the number of a player who never suited up for them before, the Miami Heat retired Michael Jordan’s number 23 when he retired in 2003.
Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, who has worn the number 11 throughout his NBA career opted to wear Kobe’s number 8 in last night’s game as a tribute. The Associated Press reported that Young had been mentored by Bryant and had a special relationship with Kobe’s daughter Gianna who had died along with him in the crash. Young scored 45 points with 14 assists in the game last night.
Several other players scrawled tributes to Bryant on their sneakers while on the court yesterday, Montrezl Harrell included a note for Gianna, Austin Rivers wrote “MAMBA 4 LIFE” in reference to Bryant’s nickname.
Tributes came from outside the basketball world as well, tennis star Nick Kyrgios wore a Lakers jersey bearing Kobe Bryant’s name and number 8 during his pre-match warmups at the Australian Open.
There’s been no word yet on how the Lakers plan on honouring Kobe, every NBA team is already wearing a memorial armband in honour of former commissioner David Stern who died three weeks ago.