NBA players call on league to retire Kobe Bryant’s numbers

Utah Jazz players Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale are calling on the NBA to retire Kobe Bryant’s jersey numbers throughout the league in the wake of the basketball icon’s death. 

Mitchell and O’Neale tweeted about retiring No. 24 and 8 after news broke on Sunday that Bryant died in a helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people. 

“PLEASE @NBA RETIRED 24! LEAGUE WIDE!!,” Mitchell wrote. 

“Don’t forget 8 too,” O’Neale replied.  

The Dallas Mavericks announced on Sunday that the team would also 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. 

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

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

In a 2017 interview with ESPN, Bryant broke down the significance of both numbers: 

"When I first came in at 8, is really trying to 'plant your flag' sort of thing. 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,” Bryant continued. “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.”

This story was reported from Los Angeles.