Kobe Bryant has played in NBA with only two jersey numbers - 8 and 24. Why these numbers? What is the history behind these numbers?


An article on ESPN.com from 2006 deals with this, although it doesn't site Kobe as a source and even says "Why's Kobe switching jersey numbers? Your guess is as good as ours" (more on this below).

In regard to the number 8 (and confirmed here):

Bryant arrived at the No. 8 for two reasons. It was the number he wore when he was a kid playing in Italy. It also tied into the number he wore at Adidas' ABCD Camp, 143. The numbers add up to 8.

In why he took 24:

Bryant began his career at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pa., wearing No. 24. But by 1996 -- the year he led the school to the state championship -- he had switched to No. 33, the number his father Joe "Jelly Bean" Bryant wore in high school.

Information around the web seems to confirm these ideas, but first-hand accounts of the switch from 8 to 24 appear to be lacking.

There are some theories out there that Kobe wanted to "one up" Michael Jordan, who wore 23 for the Bulls, but the sources for this (here) are more sketchy than the stuff quoted above. Additional theories, including an increase in jersey sales, can be found in this blog post.

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Bryant wore #8 for the following reasons:

  • He wore this number playing in Italy as a child.
  • He wore #143 at the Adidas' ABCD Camp. Added together, this comes out to 8.
  • #24 (or #33) was not available when he joined the team in 1996. #24 was worn by George McCloud. (#33 is retired in honor of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.)

Bryant currently wears #24 for the following reason:

  • He wore this number as he played high school basketball at Lower Merion High School (Bryant also wore #33 in honor of his father).

Sources: (1), (2)

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  • In addition, jersey sales is a speculatory theory why Bryant changed his number. – user527 Jan 21 '13 at 15:40
  • I think your comment is the real reason for changing the jersey number – Dor Cohen Jan 21 '13 at 15:58

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