Former WNBA Star Reveals How Kobe Bryant Copied Her Jersey Numbers 24 and 10

Published 06/21/2021, 2:44 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES, USA – APRIL 6: Kobe Bryant of Los Angeles Lakers gestures during the NBA match between Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center, in Los Angeles, USA. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Many jersey numbers in the NBA are so iconic that just the number reminds fans of the players. 23 instantly reminds fans about Michael Jordan and LeBron James while 24 does the same for Kobe Bryant.

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Lakers legend Bryant actually started his career with the number 8 and then switched to 24 later. He also donned the number 10 when he played for the USA National team at the Olympics. He made these numbers iconic. But according to fellow Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings, Kobe actually copied her when it came to jersey numbers.

Catchings and Bryant grew up together when their fathers played for the same NBA team. Later they also spent some years of their childhood together in Italy. So they were close. But since she was the older one, she felt Bryant was copying her.

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She revealed this in a recent interview when she said, “Every number I wore he tried to wear it. I wore it first. I wore 24 first.”

Catchings wore 24 from her rookie season in 2001-02 whereas Bryant only switched to it in 2006. She also wore the number 10 for the national team a few years before Kobe wore it.

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When Bryant arrived in the league, he wanted to start his career with the number 33 but it was retired for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Then he chose 8 because he wore No. 143 at Adidas ABCD, a camp for top prospects and when 8 is what you get when you add those digits.

Then in 2006-07, midway through his career, Bryant decided to switch it up. He needed a fresh start as well and a change in jersey number helped him.

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“Then 24 is a growth from that,” Bryant told ESPN back in 2017. “Physical attributes aren’t there the way they used to be, but the maturity level is greater. Marriage, kids. Start having a broader perspective being one of the older guys on the team now, as opposed to being the youngest.” 

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) takes a breather against the Denver Nuggets during the second half of the Lakers’ 104-100 NBA Playoffs game two win at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 1, 2012. AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post (Photo By AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

24 was a number he initially wore in high school, so he decided to go ahead with that. And he had an equally good career donning the number 24, as he won back-to-back titles wearing it. Since Kobe’s retirement, he has made it a popular number for young players across the league and the number 24 instantly reminds fans about him.

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Aaron Mathew

1666 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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