Jody Genessy: Could Kobe Bryant start a jersey-retirement trend in Utah?
There was no debate about whether the Los Angeles Lakers would retire Kobe Bryant’s jersey.
The only question: Which of the Black Mamba’s jersey numbers would hang in the Staples Center rafters next to the likes of all-time greats Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and Jerry West?
Would it be 8 or 24?
Lakers: Make that 8 and 24!
“As a kid growing up in Italy, I always dreamed of my jersey hanging in the Lakers rafters,” Bryant said. “But I certainly never imagined two of them.”
Now Bryant knows how excited the rest of us get when we find a BOGO coupon for our favorite restaurant.
The Lakers will honor Bryant in December when the NBA champion Golden State Warriors are in town. Presumably, there will only be one ceremony, but you never know.
“Once again, Lakers fans will celebrate our hero,” Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said. “And once again, our foes will envy the legendary Kobe Bryant.”
To show they don’t belong among that envious crowd of foes, the Utah Jazz should consider raising a banner for the legendary 8+24.
Jonas Jerebko will sport No. 8 for the Jazz, so it wouldn’t be fair to yank that number away from a Boston guy who chose Utah. All things considered, that feat alone might merit a jersey retirement.
Let’s be honest, if the Millers put No. 24 high up in Vivint Arena, the name on the banner should be Millsap, Boone or Withey, not Bryant.
Utah should also avoid No. 60. The memory of Kobe’s grand finale is still too painful for many Jazz fans.
When it comes to retired banners, Jazz management has shown a willingness to be creative with numbers, objects and accomplishments. (See: Jerry Sloan’s 1223, Hot Rod Hundley’s microphone and the derided Garth Brooks Most Tickets Sold memento.)
With that in mind, let’s settle on a memory from the good times.
The only question for the Jazz: How should they display four airballs on a Kobe banner? 0000?
The Lakers’ two-for-the-price-of-one decision might cause another quandary in the Beehive State.
Eleven players in Jazz franchise history wore multiple jersey numbers during their time with the team, so the organization will have a decision to make if and/or when it chooses to immortalize their careers.
For instance, will Utah retire No. 33 for Tom Boswell or will the Jazz pull off a rare co-retirement celebration and add his name to Karl Malone’s No. 32? (Heck, BYU is retiring No. 6 for Marc Wilson, Robbie Bosco and Luke Staley on Saturday, so this bang-for-your-buck move doesn’t seem that outlandish.)
Will John Amaechi be honored with 13, 26, 13+26 or maybe an image of his “Man in the Middle” book in which he lauded Sloan for being the “best coach” he ever played for but blasted the Hall of Famer for being “the worst person” he’s ever met in terms of dealing with people?
Will Rich Kelley be honored with No. 44, which he wore while playing in Utah from 1982-85, or could he share space on Mark Eaton’s No. 53 banner? (Kelley sported 53 while in New Orleans from 1975-79, but that number was claimed by his 7-foot-4 teammate when he returned to the relocated franchise.)
Will Greg Ostertag have his Double-Zeros retired, the No. 39 he wore in Utah Part Two, his false teeth or that snazzy Fred Flintstone tattoo of his?
And what about John Crotty (25, 22), Howard Eisley (10, 6), Chris Morris (43, 34), Bryon Russell (34, 3), Mo Williams (25, 5) and, not to forget, Marcus Cousin (0, 50)?
For the record, the Jazz have actually dealt with this scenario with Pete Maravich, opting to retire No. 7 instead of No. 44. That might be because the team simply didn’t want to have a crowded No. 44 banner that included Maravich, Kelley, Allan Bristow, Jose Ortiz, Chris Munk, Luther Wright, Greg Foster, Tony Massenburg, Ben Handlogten and everybody’s favorite 7-foot-1 Ukrainian who used to drive Sloan and Kosta Koufos nuts but made the rest of us laugh. (That’s a Kyrylo Fesenko reference, but you knew that).
Here’s one thing we do know: The Jazz will never retire No. 11 for The Mailman.
By the way, PTI’s Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon both believe the Lakers should only retire one number for Bryant.
“I’d say eight,” Wilbon said. “We’re old, though.”
“Eight. But, no, you don’t get two. That’s not how it works,” Kornheiser interjected. “Jordan didn’t get two. You don’t get two.”
The Bulls picked No. 23 for His Airness, of course.
“Forty-five,” Wilbon added. “He didn’t play well in 45.”
For what it’s worth, 23 is available in Utah, but rookie Donovan Mitchell is the new owner of 45. If excitement level over a summer league performance counts for anything, the athletic lottery pick is well on his way to jersey-retiring status.
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Published at Wed, 13 Sep 2017 20:20:00 +0000