To honor the one year anniversary of Kobe Bryant‘s death, the Miami Heat put together an emotional video featuring the team’s players discussing how the Black Mamba affected their lives on and off the court.
Bryant died at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on January 26, 2020. There were eight other people were traveling with the retired NBA star, including Kobe’s daughter, Gianna, 13. There were no survivors.
Miami Heat’s official Twitter account shared the video on Twitter with the simple caption: “8 minutes and 24 seconds of our Kobe memories #MambaForever.” While Bryant never played for the Heat, his style of playing and “Mamba Mentality” continues to serve as inspiration for every player on Miami’s roster.
Heat star Bam Adebayo says in the video that Kobe “had such an impact on my life. I wanted to have that Mamba mentality so bad. Ya know… just having that look on your face. I feel like I had that moment in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Game 6… I remember laying on the floor thinking like… this is my Mamba moment.”
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 26, 2021
Avery Bradley, who won a championship ring playing last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, refers to Kobe as “one of the best players that ever stepped on the floor and played the game of basketball. To play for the Lakers is just special. To have the opportunity to play against him was everything to me. Growing up Kobe Bryant was always my favorite player to watch.”
Bradley remembers that he was in middle school when Kobe notched 81 points. “I never forgot how amazing that was. It’s a memory I’ll always remember.” A sentiment for which Kelly Olynyk agrees, despite growing up as a Toronto Raptors fan.”
“Kobe for me,” Jimmy Butler says, “had a lot of great conversations with him, but I remember being a young player playing with the Bulls. I wanted to make a name for myself and… as soon as I checked into the game against the Lakers one time, and I was like ya know what? I’ve guarded against Kobe x amount times throughout my career you go over there and guard him for possession and he scored immediately. Obviously.”
“But I actually go a bucket on him in that game,” Butler continues. “And it was just like ya know what? I am here in the league. Kobe is a hell of a player, probably one of the most unguardable ones ever, so it was a pleasure to be able to play against him. RIP.”
Heat’s Tribute Video Title References Bryant’s 2 Jerseys Numbers
Fans will receive these shirts to honor Kobe Bryant at tonight’s game. 💜🐍💛
— ShowtimeForum (@ShowtimeForum) January 31, 2020
As the world continues to mourn the legend that was Black Mamba, his daughter Gigi, and the seven other victims, fans of Bryant are wearing his jersey in his honor, showing either the No. 24 or 8, the same numbers for the Heat used in the title of their tribute video on January 26.
When the Lakers returned to the Staples Center on January 31, to play their first game since the passing of Kobe, half the fans received commemorative jerseys with the No. 8, while the other half was gifted shirts with the No. 24.
So, why did Kobe have two different jersey numbers?
Bryant wore No. 8 while growing up in Italy when his father Joe Bryant was playing in the European basketball leagues, but when he played at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania was No. 24. After graduating, he skipped college ball and entered the 1996 NBA Draft where he was selected as the 13th overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets. However, before the season started the Hornets traded him to the Lakers, where he historically remained for the entire 20 seasons of his NBA career.
Bryant wore No. 8 for the first decade with the Lakers. It’s the number he wore at Adidas ABCD Camp 143, which was a nod to the camp’s numbers summed up. Kobe said in an interview with ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, “When I first came in at 8, is really trying to ‘plant your flag’ sort of thing. I got to prove that I belong here in this league. I’ve got to prove that I’m one of the best in this league. You’re going after them. It’s nonstop energy and aggressiveness and stuff.”
Bryant Changed To No. 24 For A ‘Clean Slate’
Kobe initially wanted to change his number from 8 to 24 during the 2005 season but missed the deadline. In the 2006-2007 season, Bryant officially changed his number to 24. Following a much-publicized arrest after being accused of sexual assault, charges of which were subsequently dropped in 2004 after settling the civil lawsuit, “It’s kind of a clean slate,” Kobe said. “I started new. Just start completely fresh, focus on the number that meant a lot to me.”
“It’s a new book, 24 — 24 is every day,” Kobe explained. “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.”
Kobe was a successful player in bother numbers. He scored 16,777 points as No. 8, and 16,866 as No. 24. He also won a title in both numbers.