By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
When the Golden State Warriors play the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night, the Warriors will be on the court to take in the festivities. Kobe Bryant will have his No. 8 and No. 24 retired – being the first player in NBA history to have both jerseys retired by a team – during halftime of the game.
“Just the experience in seeing one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “I’m not going to keep them in the locker room to watch tape of the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts. There’s something interesting going on the floor. Let’s go out there.”
Bryant is the first Lakers player to have his jersey retired since former rival and teammate, Shaquille O’Neal, had his jersey retired. O’Neal had his jersey retired by the Lakers on April 2nd, 2013.
It’ll also be just the third Lakers jersey retirement since 2010. Besides O’Neal and the upcoming Bryant retirement, Jamaal Wilkes had his jersey retired by the team on December 28th, 2012.
Kevin Durant, one of the Warriors stars, said that he was first taught his earliest lessons from Bryant. He also said that Bryant’s ‘tenacity was unmatched.’
“It was my first taste of fourth-quarter basketball in the NBA,” he said. “He fouled me all of the way up until I got the ball. It was a blatant foul, and the referee just stared at him, looked at him and didn’t call the foul. It was a level I knew I had to get to. That’s what made me realize that there’s certain players on different levels, and that you have to wait to get to that point.”
With Bryant retired, the NBA is relying on stars such as Durant, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden, who are bringing in the next generation. Despite the stars, Durant insists there is still something missing in the league without Bryant.
“I do miss that intensity that he brought to the court,” Durant said. “He raised everybody’s – opponents, coaching staff, just everybody’s – level of play. That’s what great players do. You can learn a lot from watching somebody like that.”
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