BOSTON (CBS) — NBA players are finding ways to honor the basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a tragic helicopter accident over the weekend. That includes a handful of players changing their number, a move that Celtics guard Kemba Walker is considering.
Walker wears No. 8 in Boston, and said following Tuesday night’s win in Miami that he is mulling his options. While he has given some thought to changing numbers, he may stick with Bryant’s former digit as a way of honoring the late great.
“I’m considering it but I’m not sure yet,” Walker said of changing his number. “I definitely have tons of respect for Kobe. But everybody mourns a little bit different. For me, I’m thinking I would love to honor him by wearing that number. Kobe played hard each and every night, and I would like to honor him by doing the same. I’m definitely thinking about it, but we’ll see.”
Bryant wore No. 8 for the first 10 years of his career before switching to the No. 24 for his final decade in the NBA. So far, Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets, Terrence Ross of the Orlando Magic, and Moe Harkless of the L.A. Clippers have announced that they’ll no longer wear the No. 8 jersey in honor of Bryant. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said that the franchise will retire the No. 24 in honor of Bryant.
Walker may have a tough time finding a new number if he does give up the No. 8 Celtics jersey. The No. 15 that he wore during his college career at UConn and for his eight seasons with Charlotte is hanging in the TD Garden rafters, retired for Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn. Boston has retired 22 jerseys overall, limiting Walker’s potential list of replacement numbers.
But Walker is right that it’s up to every player to decide how they want to honor Bryant in their own way. Whether he does so by changing his number or by continuing to wear No. 8 in Bryant’s honor is completely up to him.