Dallas Mavericks Will Retire No. 24 to Honor Kobe Bryant: His 'Legacy Transcends Basketball'
“We are shocked and saddened by the devastating news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” Cuban said in a statement. “Kobe was an ambassador for our game, a decorated legend, and a global icon. Above all, he was a loving and dedicated father.”
“Kobe’s legacy transcends basketball, and our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick,” he added. “Our hearts go out to all the lives lost and the families impacted by this terrible tragedy. We send our thoughts and prayers to Vanessa and the family, the Lakers organization and Kobe Bryant fans everywhere.”
A total of five Mavericks players have worn the 24 throughout the team’s history, most recently Richard Jefferson in 2015, USA Today reported. To date, the team has retired three other numbers.
Bryant wore 24 for the second half of his storied career with the Los Angeles Lakers, having started out with 8.
The reasons behind no. 8 were twofold, ESPN pointed out. It was not only a nod to the number he wore as a young boy while playing in Italy — where his family moved while his father, former NBA player Joe Bryant, continued his career abroad — but also to the number he wore at the Adidas ABCD camp, a youth training camp. There he wore no. 143, the digits of which add up to 8.
Bryant decided to make the change at the start of the 2006-2007 season.
“It’s kind of a clean slate,” he told ESPN. “I started new. Just start completely fresh, focus on the number that meant a lot to me.”
The move was also a nod to his past, as no. 24 is a number he wore in high school.
“Then 24 is a growth,” he 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.”
“It’s a new book, 24 — 24 is every day. Because when you get older, your muscles start getting sore. Body starts aching. You show up to practice that day, you have to remind yourself, ‘OK, this day is the most important day. I got to push through this soreness. My ankles are tight, they won’t get loose. I got to go through it, because this is the most important day.’ So, 24 also helped me from a motivational standpoint,” he added.
The five-time NBA champion had been with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others when his private helicopter went down on Sunday.
Girls basketball coach Christina Mauser, of Harbor Day School in Orange County, was also one of the nine aboard, as was John Altobelli, the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College, his wife Keri Altobelli and their daughter, Alyssa Altobelli, the school confirmed in a statement on their website.
Emergency personnel responded but none of the nine people on board survived, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said during a press conference on Sunday.