Although he never played a game for the Dallas Mavericks, the team is honoring his legacy in a big way.

By Rebecca Angel Baer
January 27, 2020
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Tom Pennington / Staff/Getty Images

The world is collectively shocked and grieving over the news that Kobe Bryant, Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday. Social media timelines are filled with messages of disbelief and despair and last night’s Grammy Awards show was full of touching tributes. The show took place in Staples Arena, the very place Bryant played all of his 20 years in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers. As host Alicia Keys said last night, they were in “the house that Kobe Bryant built,” and his two retired jerseys, the number 8 and the number 24, were illuminated above the audience.

Traditionally, many sports teams have retired the jerseys of their great players at retirement. But yesterday, one NBA team owner made a grand gesture to the fallen basketball champion. Bryant never played for the Dallas Mavericks. In fact, he was much more likely a thorn in the Mavericks’ collective side in his playing days, a fierce competitor keeping Dallas from winning many a game and championship. But owner Mark Cuban issued the following statement declaring that they too would retire the number 24 jersey.

Cuban said in part, “Kobe was an ambassador for our game, a decorated legend and a global icon, above all, he was a loving and dedicated father. Kobe’s legacy transcends basketball, and our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick.”

News of the tragic accident broke Sunday just as NBA teams all around the league were taking the court for an afternoon full of basketball. Players were visibly crying on the sidelines. And in several games, symbolic penalties were taken that resulted in 24 second stops to the clock to honor Bryant.

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Southern Living joins the country in offering our deepest condolences to the Bryant family as well as the families of John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Ara Zobayan, and Christina Mauser.