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Magic Johnson has hailed Kobe Bryant as the ‘greatest’ Los Angeles Lakers player of all time.
Five-time NBA champion Bryant ended his 20-year career in April 2016 as an 18-time All-Star. His Lakers shirt numbers, 8 and 24, were officially retired at a ceremony during LA’s clash with current NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors, this week. Bryant won three NBA titles in succession wearing the number eight shirt from 2000 onwards, while he added two more in the 24 jersey, having played 10 seasons wearing each number.
He spent his entire star-studded career in Los Angeles. He finished as the Lakers’ all-time point scorer and third on the NBA’s all-time list with 33,643 points. The 39-year-old was the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA Finals MVP, while he also twice won Olympic Gold with the United States. Johnson, himself a five-time NBA champion between 1980-88 with the Lakers and now President of Basketball Operations at the club, had no issues in ceding best to Bryant’s career. “We’re here to celebrate the greatest to ever wear the purple and gold,” said Johnson.
“He made us rub our eyes and wonder ‘what did we just see’. There will never, ever be another Kobe Bryant.” Bryant is the tenth player to receive the honour of having his jerseys retired, with the list also including Johnson, and he said it was an honour to be in that exclusive club. “Thank you so much for tonight,” said Bryant. “It’s not about my jerseys that are hanging up there for me. It’s about the jerseys that were hanging up there before.”
Golden State are 1.53 to retain their NBA crown this season, while the Cleveland Cavaliers are 6.00.