Kobe Bryant played 60 career games against the Mavericks, averaging 24.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists in his career. Given the depth of that history together, Dallas owner Mark Cuban announced on Sunday that the No. 24 would be effectively retired for the Mavericks.
A statement from Cuban read:
“We are shocked and saddened by the devastating news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. 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.
“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.”
The No. 24 has not been worn in Dallas since Richard Jefferson’s short stint with the team in 2015. Five players wore No. 24 in Dallas including the first Maverick to don 24, Mark Aguirre, who is one of the best offensive players in team history.
Aguirre ranks third on the Mavs’ all-time scoring list and there have been increasing calls to retire his number before Bryant’s tragic death.
Mark Cuban Nearly Traded for Kobe Bryant
Cuban has long had a good relationship with Bryant and nearly made him a Maverick according to Cuban’s recollection. There was a brief window, in 2007, when Bryant was asking for a trade out of L.A. because he was unhappy with the team and its front office.
Word had come out of the organization that Bryant had been responsible for the departure of Shaquille O’Neal after the 2004 season and Bryant was getting weary of the lack of direction within the Lakers.
It was then that Cuban pounced. Cuban pushed the Lakers for a trade, taking on a salary dump from the team, sending draft picks back to Los Angeles and trading back a pair of players, Jason Terry and Josh Howard.
Terry was coming off a year in which he averaged 16.7 points and Howard was only 26, one of the better defensive players in the league and having just averaged 18.9 points and 6.8 rebounds the previous season.
Lakers owner Jerry Buss pulled back on making the deal with the Mavericks and Bryant was eventually talked back into the team fold by Buss. He had preferred a deal to Chicago and had reportedly vetoed a trade that would have sent him to the Pistons.
Cuban, for his part, thought the Lakers would OK the offer his front office made. “I could have sworn that we had a deal done,” Cuban told ESPN in 2016.
Alas, there was no deal. But Cuban still stepped forward to honor Bryant anyway.
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