Kobe Bryant Says The Second Half Of His Career Was All About Helping Teammates Grow

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant will watch the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate his illustrious 20-year career, all with the same franchise, when the team retires both his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys on December 18.

According to the Black Mamba, the two numbers represent more than just different stages in his life—they almost represent different people.

The first, a more selfish version of Bryant trying to establish himself as a big dog in the NBA. The second, Bryant told Complex in an interview, was more about helping teammates improve and leading teams. He switched numbers after 10 seasons in the league.

“It’s crystal clear to me because it’s almost two different people in a sense,” said of the distinction between Nos. 8 and 24 in an interview with Complex. “Of having a certain mentality of coming into the league where you’re literally head-hunting everyone. Right? Because it’s your time to establish yourself and say, ‘No, I belong here.’ As a result, everybody must go. Then when you hit a certain maturity level, which is where 24 is, it becomes less about your self-domination, it becomes ‘How can I help others grow?’ How can I lead a group of guys to get to a certain level as a group? And that’s a really big distinction.”

Mmm, yes. This explains why Kobe Bryant spent the last two seasons of his career jacking up more than 18 shots a game and shooting a measly 36.4 percent from the field while the franchise was trying to develop D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle. For the good of the team!