Over a year since Kobe Bryant retired from the Los Angeles Lakers, the former star player will return to Staples Center Monday night to retire his two jersey numbers, 8 and 24.
A ceremony for the jersey retirement will take place during halftime in a game against the Golden State Warriors. And before the game kicks off, the L.A. team will host a street festival called ‘Kobeland’ from 4 to 7 p.m., featuring “a Kobe-inspired ferris wheel,” live DJ, a basketball shootout and interactive games, according to an NBA news release.
Spectrum SportsNet will broadcast much of the day’s Kobe-related festivities, including Top 10 countdowns on the best Staples Center moments, Kobe’s 50+ point games and backstage footage of his final game.
With five NBA championships, Bryant’s time on the Lakers is often held dear by L.A. fans.
“When Shaq left, it was on him. The whole city was on him,” said one fan, Earvin Farfan. “The Dodgers weren’t good. The other teams weren’t good. It was a Lakers town at that moment.”
“And ever since then, it’s been Kobe Bryant no matter what,” he said.
Bryant spent his entire 20-year career in the NBA playing for the team, first joining as an 18-year-old right out of high school in the mid-’90s and announcing his retirement in November 2015. He racked up 60 points during his final game, a defeat of the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2016.
“It’s the organization that I grew up loving,” Bryant said of the Lakers during an interview with the L.A. Times.
“I studied the history of it ever since I was a little kid,” he said. “I’m fully aware of the jerseys that get retired up there. … I’ve just been very, very fortunate to play with an organization that we’ve just been with each other for the entire ride.”