The Zen Master won five NBA titles with Bryant, and the reason for his absence isn’t known.
Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson is unable to attend Kobe Bryant's jersey retirement ceremony Monday night at Staples Center, but has been in touch with Bryant to congratulate him, sources told ESPN. https://t.co/ch0EDAqL2t
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) December 18, 2017
Kobe is the 10th Laker to have his jersey raised to the rafters, and the first player in League history to have two numbers retired by the same team.
“When I first came in at 8, is really trying to ‘plant your flag’ sort of thing,” Bryant says. “I got to prove that I belong here in this league. I’ve got to prove that I’m one of the best in this league. You’re going after them. It’s nonstop energy and aggressiveness and stuff.
“Then 24 is a growth from that. Physical attributes aren’t there the way they used to be, but the maturity level is greater. Marriage, kids. Start having a broader perspective being one of the older guys on the team now, as opposed to being the youngest. Things evolve. It’s not to say one is better than the other or one’s a better way to be. It’s just growth.”
Three of Bryant’s five titles came as No. 8, but his lone NBA MVP award came as No. 24 — ammunition for fans who prefer one or the other. Which Kobe does Kobe himself prefer?
“It’s the season where I ruptured my Achilles, actually,” he says. “Because I felt like I was playing the best basketball I’ve ever played in my entire career.”