A number of NBA players are planning to “informally retire” Kobe Bryant‘s numbers by changing their own, according to The Athletic‘s Shams Charania.
Fans and players have been calling for Nos. 8 and 24, the two worn by Bryant during his 20-year career, to be retired by the NBA after his sudden passing in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
Unlike the NHL and MLB, which have retired Nos. 99 and 42, respectively, the NBA has never retired a number league-wide. The Los Angles Lakers, the only team Bryant ever played for, already retired both of his numbers back in 2017.
However, until the NBA makes a decision, players and organizations have begun taking it upon themselves to honour Bryant’s legacy.
Charania cites Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who wears No. 8, as one player who will change his number to honour Bryant. Dinwiddie will begin wearing No. 26.
The Orlando Magic’s Terrence Ross is reportedly also changing numbers, going from No. 8 to No. 31.
Norman Powell is currently the only member of the Toronto Raptors who wears one of Bryant’s old numbers, No. 24. When asked on Sunday if he would support retiring the numbers, he said, “Yes, definitely.”
“The reason why I wear No. 24 is because of Kobe,” Powell said. “Whatever it takes to honour him, (he’s) one of the greatest to ever do it… If they want to retire 24, I’ll find a new number.”
Canadian Tristan Thompson was quick to call for the numbers to be retired, tweeting on Sunday that the league should retire both immediately.
Other players who have publicly called for Bryant’s numbers to be retired include Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neal of the Utah Jazz.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has already announced that no player on the Mavericks will ever wear No. 24 again.
Twenty-two players have worn No. 8 in NBA games this season, notably all-stars Kemba Walker and Trae Young, although Young did so specifically on Sunday in a tribute to Bryant. Twelve players, including Canadian Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, have worn No. 24 this season.