Wizards

Dinwiddie among those to pay tribute to Kobe with number change

Wizards

When the Wizards signed former Nets combo guard Spencer Dinwiddie in a complicated sign-and-trade on Wednesday, deep down in the pile of concerns after the deal was made official was his jersey number. 

Fortunately for Washington, there likely won't be any qualms on Dinwiddie's end with the jersey number the current Wizards power forward, Rui Hachimura, wears.

Dinwiddie was among those in the NBA leading the charge paying tribute to Kobe Bryant in the aftermath of his death when he made the jersey switch from No. 8 to No. 26, a number that had some significance to him as his son was born on April 20 and his birthday is April 6. It's also the sum of Kobe's 24 and his late daughter Gianna's 2. Add that together and it's a special jersey number that could again be used if Dinwiddie should choose in Wizards colors. 

The NBA actually allowed Trae Young to wear a No. 8 Hawks jersey to honor Bryant following his Jan. 2020 death for the opening tip against the Wizards in the game immediately following his passing. Others like Terrence Ross and Jahlil Okafor followed Dinwiddie's lead, while then-Celtics guard Kemba Walker honored Bryant by continuing to wear his No. 8. 

For Dinwiddie, though, going out of his way to honor Bryant by switching numbers showed the impact the legendary Laker had on Dinwiddie's basketball career. Born in raised in the Los Angeles community, Bryant's greatness was ingrained upon Dinwiddie's childhood. 

"A whole generation of kids, that was our childhood," Dinwiddie told media on the day of Bryant's death. "That Mamba Mentality, as cliche as it sounds, that's the reason I am who I am today." 

 

A teary-eyed Dinwiddie then proceeded to mention how much it meant to him that Bryant mentioned that he deserved to be an All-sStar during the 2019-20 season, saying "You're an All-Star in my book." 

For an LA kid who immortalized Bryant growing up, that sealed the deal of why Dinwiddie personally retired Bryant's No. 8. 

"Guys talk about the popularity contest before, and you don't win things like that when [you're] me," Dinwiddie said choked up. "So for him to say that I didn't need to be selected anymore because I was an All-Star, and it wasn't just my family saying it -- it was the guy."

With five franchise retired numbers (10, 11, 25, 41, and 45), stay on the lookout to see if Dinwiddie opts to stay with the No. 26 he rocked in Brooklyn or if a potential changeup to coincide with his new backcourt partnership with Bradley Beal is on the horizon.