The Lakers are going to honor the career of Kobe Bryant this coming season by retiring two jersey numbers.
The decision is considered controversial by some people because such a move is believed to be without precedent.
Frankly, I have to agree. I’m shocked that the Lakers aren’t recognizing Bryant by retiring three jersey numbers.
Hey, why not? There’s no such thing as being too over-the-top when it comes to worshipping stars, the Lakers no doubt tempted to simply wrap Bryant in marble and perch him atop Staples Center.
In July, Ivan Rodriguez was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame, his likeness forever frozen as a slight grin framed beneath the bill of Texas Rangers cap. But it wasn’t the first time he was captured as a magnificent piece of art.
Years ago, Rodriguez had a one-ton statue of himself constructed for purposes of displaying the sculpture in his own backyard. The thing stands 6 feet tall, even though the actual Ivan Rodriguez is only 5-9.
Now, being completely serious, naturally the Lakers are taking Nos. 8 and 24 out of circulation in deference to Bryant. They have no other choice, Bryant, even in retirement, still demanding of a double-team.
He wore each number for an equal amount of time and distinguished each to an equal degree of legend.
Bryant scored 16,866 points as No. 8, for example, and 16,777 as No. 24, the totals remarkably close, especially for a player whose shot selections was at times so erratic that critics speculated Bryant was sabotaging playoff games.
If ever someone deserved to have two jersey numbers hung in perpetuity, it is someone like Bryant, someone who created two careers worth of on-court memories to go with two careers worth of off-court drama.
Remembering his time with Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson, Bryant played one of the great soap-opera characters of all-time, those Lakers winning three NBA championships but somehow not a single Daytime Emmy.
This situation is nothing like the one involving Michael Jordan, who wore No. 23 when he was making magic for the Chicago Bulls and No. 45 when he was making outs for the Birmingham Barons.
After returning from his original NBA retirement, Jordan wore No. 45 for the Bulls, too, the images of that time seeming no more bizarre today than the pictures of Jordan as a Washington Wizard, the very embodiment of bizarre.
Forced to settle on either number for Bryant, I’m guessing the Lakers would have chosen 24, since that’s the one he had at the…