NBA players pay tribute to Kobe Bryant by voluntarily retiring his numbers

NBA players are paying their respects to Kobe Bryant in the aftermath of his death by informally retiring his jersey numbers.

Bryant died in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people on Sunday.

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Since then, multiple players in the league have made plans to change their numbers from 8 and 24 to pay respect to the former Lakers legend.

“Sources: Multiple NBA players have begun informally retiring Kobe Bryant’s jersey number(s) as a tribute,” senior NBA insider and writer Shams Charania tweeted. 

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie announced on Tuesday that he’d changed his jersey number from 8 to 26.

“Everything in life evolves. #26,” Dinwiddie tweeted. 

While the switch was made to honor Bryant’s life, Dinwiddie revealed he chose the number 26 for several reasons. 

“We often search for meaning in numbers. And yes you guys have caught a lot of the obvious reasons...There’s one more tho, a person that I often speak about but hold private and most close to my heart. Elijah + Spencer = 20 + 6 Honor your ppl, love you son," Dinwiddie tweeted.

Orlando Magic guard and forward Terrence Ross also swapped out his No. 8 jersey for No. 31 on Tuesday.

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Utah Jazz players Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neal previously called on the NBA to retire Bryant’s jerseys throughout the entire league. 

The Dallas Mavericks announced on Sunday that the team would be hanging up No. 24 indefinitely.

“Kobe’s legacy transcends basketball, and our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said in a statement. 

Currently, there are 33 players in the NBA with the jersey numbers 8 and 24, according to Basketball Reference. While it is unclear if all the players plan to switch their numbers, the NBA is reportedly independently reviewing each case.

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“Requests by current NBA players to change from No. 8 or No. 24 to a new number in tribute to Kobe Bryant, like the Nets' Spencer Dinwiddie just did, will be reviewed by the NBA on a case-by-case basis, according to a source briefed on the process,” New York Times reporter Marc Stein tweeted.

Bryant joined the Lakers in 1996 and wore the No. 8 jersey for 10 seasons. In 2006, the the five-time NBA champion changed his number to 24. 

In Dec. 2017, the Lakers officially retired both of Bryant’s jerseys during a halftime ceremony at the Staples Center.