INDIANAPOLIS — When Lauri Markkanen came to the Bulls, Nikola Mirotic wore No. 44. Markkanen thus couldn’t use the number that his father wore at Kansas.
So, in a nod to his days growing up as a guard, he picked No. 24 because he loved Kobe Bryant.
Some players throughout the league are now changing their numbers from No. 24 and No. 8 to honor Bryant, who had both retired by the Lakers before his tragic death on Sunday. But Markkanen and Zach LaVine, who wears No. 8, are keeping theirs.
“You can’t really go wrong with either decision,” Markkanen said. “I didn’t feel any pressure. It’s our decision. I feel like you can honor him either way, by retiring it or still keep his number alive. That’s just the route I took. Hopefully, everybody can respect everybody’s opinion.”
Markkanen acknowledged he and LaVine discussed the matter.
"I just didn't have any plan on changing it. Kobe was one of the main reasons I wear No. 8," LaVine said. "I'm going to continue to wear No. 8 because of that, too."
"Now it has deeper meaning,” Markkanen said of his No. 24.