NBA legend explains why Kobe Bryant’s league-wide jersey retirement won’t happen
NBA Legend Julius Erving spoke to TMZ Sports at RELEASED on Saturday and explained why the league is unlikely to retire jersey numbers as the late, great Kobe Bryant worn throughout his illustrious career.
Erving, 72, played alongside Kobe’s father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryantwith the Philadelphia 76ers.
Despite his love for Kobe and his ties to his family, Erving doesn’t believe Black Mamba should be compared to Bill Russellrecently passed away at age 86.
“Bill was a very special person and what he did for baketball, no one else could do it again so I think it’s totally justified to withdraw his number“, Erving said. “It’s the only number he’s ever had. Many of us who wore six also had other numbers. I was 32 James [James] at 23.
“I played with Kobe’s father in Philadelphia – Jellybean. I have empathy for family situations. Should they retire his number, forever? I don’t think it should be compared to Russell’s situation. And we’re new to this, so let’s see how it works. Maybe at some point. Bill was 86 years old.”
Julius Erving on Kobe Bryant vs. Bill Russell
Erving then listed other reasons why there is no comparison between Kobe and Bill.
“Multiple champions, multiple coaching champions, multiple champions on and off the court,” Erving said of Russell. “There is no comparison. I wouldn’t even try to compare Kobe Bryant to Bill Russell.
“It’s more of a franchise situation with the [Los Angeles] Lakers. If they wanted to do it, which I think they’ve already done, that makes sense, but for the whole league, probably not.”
Days after his death, Russell became the first NBA player to retire his jersey league-wide, an honor Bryant has yet to receive since his tragic death in 2020.