The process for an NBA player to change his number in-season is unprecedented and never happened before. But at least ten players have been prompted to do so since the unexpected passing of Kobe Bryant. The process usually requires a fee and a waiting period until the beginning of the following season.
In the wake of the helicopter crash that took the lives of Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers, players are now faced with the dilemma of either swapping their jersey number to honor his number or keeping them for the exact same reason.
Marc Stein of the New York Times, who also reports for ESPN and the NBA, recently indicated that the league is reviewing jersey number requests individually and on a “case by case basis.”
Below is a list of current players who have decided to keep the No. 8 or No. 24 and the reasons for their respective decisions:
Alize Johnson, Indiana Pacers – No. 24
Johnson provided a chilling reason as to why he will not change his jersey number. “You need that role-model coming up, and for me, it was God and him,” he shared with The Athletic.
Khem Birch, Orlando Magic – No. 24
Birch lost a friend in a car accident and Kobe Bryant was their favorite player. He wears No. 24 to respect both.
Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors – No. 24
Powell hasn’t ruled it out, but his preference is to keep wearing the number 24. “The reason I wear 24 is because of Kobe,” he told The Athletic. “So whatever it takes to honor him, one of the greatest ever to do it. If they want to retire 24 I’ll find a new number.”
Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards – No. 8
Hachimura wore No. 8 in high school and the rookie plans to continue wearing it for cultural reasons (it translate to “Hachi”) as well.
Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics – No. 8
Walker is considering a change but is still undecided. Watch his take after the jump.