Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is set to become the first player in NBA history to have two jersey numbers retired by one team.
But before his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys hang high in the rafters of the Staples Center, the 39-year-old retired superstar lamented on his evolution as a player, which prompted him to switch numbers at the beginning of the 2006-2007 NBA season.
“It’s crystal clear to me because it’s almost two different people in a sense,” Bryant said in a recent interview with Complex.
Kobe breaks down the difference between No. 8 and No. 24 pic.twitter.com/c2ylBs9spS
— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) November 6, 2017
The five-time NBA champion also reminisced about the brash afro-donning version of himself, who entered the league at 18 years old, straight out of high school.
“Of having a certain mentality of coming into the league where you’re literally head-hunting everyone. Right? Because it’s your time to establish yourself and say, ‘No, I belong here.’ As a result, everybody must go.”
Known primarily as a “selfish” scorer during his early years, Bryant then explained his transition from a talented player to a leader.
“Then when you hit a certain maturity level, which is where 24 is, it becomes less about your self-domination, it becomes ‘How can I help others grow? How can I lead a group of guys to get to a certain level as a group?’ And that’s a really big distinction.”
When asked about what advice number 24 has for number 8, he said: “I think with 24 and his really old grandfatherly wisdom would say just keep head-hunting because that is how I got to be Number 24 in the first place.”
Bryant’s jersey retirement ceremony will take place during halftime of the Lakers’ matchup against the defending champions Golden State Warriors on Dec. 18. /ra