Lakers to retire Kobe Bryant’s two jersey numbers in December

Former NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant attends a basketball teaching activity in Haikou in China's southern Hainan province on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 13 September 2017
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Lakers to retire Kobe Bryant’s two jersey numbers in December

LOS ANGELES: One retired jersey number just is not enough for Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers will retire Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 in a ceremony Dec. 18 during their game against Golden State, the franchise announced Tuesday.
Bryant wore No. 8 from 1996 to 2006, when he switched to No. 24 for the remainder of a 20-year career spent entirely with the Lakers. He will be the 10th player honored by the Lakers with a retired number hung high on the Staples Center wall, but the first in NBA history to have two numbers retired by the same team.
“Kobe’s jerseys are taking their rightful home next to the greatest Lakers of all time,” Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said. “There was never any doubt this day would come. The only question was when. Once again, Lakers fans will celebrate our hero, and once again, our foes will envy the legendary Kobe Bryant.”
The five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star selection is the Lakers’ franchise leader in points (33,643), games played (1,346), 3-pointers (1,827), steals (1,944) and free throws (8,378), among countless superlatives.
Bryant is the third-leading scorer in NBA history after becoming the first player to spend at least 20 seasons with one franchise. He retired in 2016 with a bravura 60-point performance in his farewell game against Utah.
“As a kid growing up in Italy, I always dreamed of my jersey hanging in the Lakers rafters, but I certainly never imagined two of them,” Bryant said in a statement. “The Lakers have bestowed a huge honor on me, and I’m grateful for the fans’ enthusiasm around this game.”
Bryant scored almost exactly as many points in his No. 8 jersey (16,777) as he did while wearing No. 24 (16,866). He returned to his high school jersey numbers midway through his career in an attempt at a fresh start following allegations of sexual assault leveled against him three years earlier, causing him to lose numerous sponsorship deals even after the case was dropped by Colorado authorities.
The 16-time NBA champion Lakers have only retired the numbers of Hall of Fame players: Wilt Chamberlain (13), Elgin Baylor (22), Gail Goodrich (25), Magic Johnson (32), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33), Shaquille O’Neal (34), James Worthy (42), Jerry West (44) and Jamaal Wilkes (52). O’Neal’s jersey was the most recent to be hung on the wall in 2013.
Bryant is eligible to enter the Hall of Fame in 2021, but the Lakers decided not to wait for that formality to enshrine Kobe in their own exclusive club.
“This honor is very well deserved,” said Johnson, now the Lakers’ president of basketball operations. “Kobe was one of the greatest Lakers and NBA players of all-time, and he’s definitely on my Mount Rushmore.”
Bryant teamed with O’Neal to win three consecutive NBA titles from 2000-02, and he worked with Pau Gasol to win two more in 2009 and 2010. The Lakers struggled late in his career while Bryant ended three consecutive seasons early with injuries, and the franchise delayed its rebuilding in favor of showcasing Bryant to his adoring worldwide fans.
Bryant largely stayed away from basketball during retirement over the past year, but his influence remains outsized on the Lakers. Rob Pelinka, Bryant’s longtime agent, became the Lakers’ general manager in February when Buss put Johnson in charge of the front office.
“Kobe carried the torch for the Lakers for 20 seasons, keeping the franchise at the forefront of the NBA following the ‘Showtime’ Era,” Pelinka said. “Beyond the championship banners and individual accolades, Kobe’s ‘Mamba Mentality’ is something the Lakers will always try to emulate. It alone daily inspires all of us to strive for greatness.”


Australia get crucial 1-1 draw with Denmark at World Cup

Updated 21 June 2018
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Australia get crucial 1-1 draw with Denmark at World Cup

  • 38th-minute penalty was set up after Denmark forward Yussuf Poulsen was penalized for a handball
  • Going into the tournament, world No. 36 Australia were the lowest-ranked team in Group C with the others all in the top 12

SAMARA, Russia: Mile Jedinak’s penalty kick gave Australia a 1-1 draw against Denmark and new life at the World Cup on Thursday.
The 38th-minute penalty was set up after Denmark forward Yussuf Poulsen was penalized for a handball following a video review.
Poulsen was also given a yellow card and will be suspended for the team’s final group match against France because of accumulation.
The goal was Jedinak’s second from the spot at this year’s World Cup, and it stopped Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel’s five-match streak of clean sheets for the Danes.
Christian Eriksen scored in the opening minutes for Denmark, which have gone unbeaten in 17 straight international matches.
Going into the tournament, world No. 36 Australia were the lowest-ranked team in Group C with the others all in the top 12.
With a loss to France in the opener, a defeat on Thursday would have made it nearly impossible for the Socceroos to advance to the next stage. Denmark, meanwhile, won their first match against Peru.
Australia lost to 1998 World Cup champions France 2-1 on Saturday in Kazan, with both French goals coming as the result of video technology. But the score did not reflect the Socceroos’ gritty defensive performance.
Australia again took a defensive stand against Denmark, which were back at the World Cup after missing out on the tournament in Brazil.
The Danes were coming off a 1-0 victory over Peru on Saturday in Saransk.
Poulsen, who plays for German club RB Leipzig, scored the lone goal.
It is the fifth World Cup appearance for the Danes, who reached the quarterfinals in 1998.
Australia were also making a fifth trip to the World Cup. The team’s best showing was in the 2006 quarterfinals.
Moments after Mathew Leckie’s header for Australia sailed over the goal, Eriksen sent a left-footed shot over goalkeeper Mathew Ryan’s outstretched arms.
Pione Sisto nearly gave the Danes the advantage just after the halftime break, but his shot went to the right of the goal. Australia added some firepower in the 68th, bringing on 19-year-old Daniel Arzani as both teams scrambled for a winning goal.
Australia lost Andrew Nabbout in the 74th minute with what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder. He was replaced by Tomi Juric.
Denmark’s opening victory over Peru was marred by the loss of starting midfielder William Kvist, who fractured two ribs and is likely to miss the rest of the tournament. He was replaced in the starting lineup against Australia by Lasse Schone.
Denmark’s last loss was in October 2016 against Montenegro, 1-0 in Copenhagen.

GROUP DYNAMICS
The highlight of Group C will be the match between France and Denmark on Tuesday in Moscow. The top finishers in the group will go on to play opponents from Group D, which includes Croatia, Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria.

KEYS TO SUCCESS
Eriksen, who plays for Tottenham in England, has scored in 17 of the national team’s last 20 matches.
During World Cup qualifying, he scored 11 goals for the Danes, third-best in Europe behind Poland striker Robert Lewandowski with 16 and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo with 15.
Now 26, Eriksen was the youngest player at the World Cup in South Africa. He has 79 appearances for the national team and 23 goals.
He was named man of the match on Thursday.