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Report: Multiple NBA players giving up No. 8 and No. 24 to honor Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, Spencer Dinwiddie and Kyrie Irving

BROOKLYN, NY - DECEMBER 21: Spencer Dinwiddie #8, and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets talk with Former NBA Player, Kobe Bryant after the game Atlanta Hawks on December 21, 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Kobe Bryant’s outsized career warranted outsized recognition, and the Lakers found a perfectly fitting honor. They retired both his No. 8 and No. 24 in 2017.

Now, people are searching for the appropriate way to commemorate the unprecedented basketball giant who died so young. Many tributes – including teams opening games with 24-second then 8-second violations – have focused on his numbers. Hawks guard Trae Young wore No. 8. Any 8, 24 or 81 appearing in a box score have become a topic of discussion.

Now, Spencer Dinwiddie – who was particularly proud of Bryant telling him last month he’s playing like an All-Star – is the face of another movement to memorialize Bryant.

Shams Charania:

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Beyond Dinwiddie, players who wear No. 8:

  • Kemba Walker (BOS)
  • Bismack Biyombo (CHA)
  • Zach LaVine (CHI)
  • Jarred Vanderbilt (DEN)
  • Markieff Morris (DET)
  • Alec Burks (GSW)
  • Justin Holiday (IND)
  • Maurice Harkless (LAC)
  • Jahlil Okafor (NOP)
  • Danilo Gallinari (OKC)
  • Terrence Ross (ORL)
  • Zhaire Smith (PHI)
  • Frank Kaminsky (PHO)
  • Trevor Ariza (POR)
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic (SAC)
  • Patty Mills (SAS)
  • Emmanuel Mudiay (UTA)
  • Rui Hachimura (WAS)

Players who wear No. 24:

  • Bruno Fernando (ATL)
  • Lauri Markkanen (CHI)
  • Mason Plumlee (DEN)
  • Alize Johnson (IND)
  • Dillon Brooks (MEM)
  • Pat Connaughton (MIL)
  • Khem Birch (ORL)
  • Buddy Hield (SAC)
  • Norman Powell (TOR)
  • Miye Oni (UTA)
  • Garrison Mathews (WAS)

Anyone who wants to honor Bryant giving up No. 8 or No. 24 should. Who’s anyone to tell them that’s the wrong way to grieve and pay tribute?

But other players will want to wear No. 8 or No. 24 to honor Bryant. That’s just as respectful. I hope they aren’t peer-pressured out of doing so.

Some players who want to wear No. 8 or No. 24 in memory of Bryant might even be among those giving up the number now.

In 2009, LeBron James – who was wearing No. 23 with the Cavaliers – said the NBA should retire No. 23 for Michael Jordan. He pledged to kickstart the movement the next season by changing his own number. He signed with the Heat – who already retired No. 23 for Jordan despite him never playing for them – and wore No. 6.

LeBron returned to Cleveland in 2010. His number during his second Cavs stint? No. 23. His number with the Lakers now? No. 23.

People change their minds on these things – especially when the cloudiness of grief subsides. Individual players should choose their number as they see fit.

So, I hope this doesn’t turn into a formal league-wide retirement of Bryant’s numbers. It seems more fitting – outside the most extreme cases, like Jackie Robinson in baseball – for that to remain a team honor.

Bryant is headed to the Hall of Fame. That’s the way to ratify his legacy through all of basketball.