Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016 has been declared Kobe Bryant day in honor of the great basketball player, and the two jersey numbers he wore over his historic career.
“Among his astonishing list of accomplishments, Kobe Bryant’s 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers ranks him No. 1 all-time for NBA players who played for a single franchise, and ‘Kobe Bryant Day’ is the City of Los Angeles’ way of thanking him for his single-minded dedication to excellence, the fans and the entire City and region of Los Angeles,” L.A. city council member Jose Huizar said in a statement.
The timing couldn’t be any better, as Bryant (also known as The Black Mamba on the court) celebrated his 38th birthday on Tuesday, August 23.
“For 20 years, we were all the beneficiaries of Kobe’s incredible talent and legendary work ethic, and on 8-24 we’ll gather to say, ‘Thank you, Mamba,’” said Huizar.
Bryant, with his daughters and pregnant wife by his side, watched the video recap of his 60-point effort in his final NBA game. When he had his turn at the microphone he concluded by saying:
“This is an incredible and wonderful city. And after today’s amazing celebration, I hope that this legacy extends beyond basketball. I hope that August 24, on this day, is a celebration of passion and hard work, dedication and mentorship. Because teaching the next generation how to achieve greatness is really what it’s all about. And together as a city we can do this. We only play for one thing in this city, and that’s winning championships. Inspiring the next generation to achieve their dreams, whatever that dream might be, is the most important thing. We need each other to do it. And together we will do that, and certainly we will win championship after championship.”
His news conference afterward had little to do with basketball, as he answered questions about his newly announced venture capital fund and the challenge of defeating homelessness.
“I was born to play basketball. From the age of 4, this is all I knew. But I knew it comes to an end, so what comes next?” Bryant said. “But it took me 17 years for me to figure out what that is. It’s a lot of hard work, it’s a lot of reading. For the last three years, I was ready.”