Jersey Monday: Kobe Bryant

I've mentioned this before -- in fact, the last time I did a Kobe Jersey Monday post -- but I don't hate Kobe Bryant. To be fair, I try not to use the word "hate" in relation to something as globally insignificant as sports rivals, but I actually really enjoy watching Kobe Bryant play basketball. I enjoyed it a bit more before the entire Internet turned into one giant "Kobe vs. LeBron" debate and the word "RINGZ!!!11!1!!!!" entered the lexicon, but when Kobe is at his best, he's still an incredibly fun player to watch.

This is obviously an "old-school" Kobe jersey, and it pains me to think that anything involving Kobe's career could be "old" because it makes me feel old. This jersey not only predates Kobe's number change, but it predates the league's apparel contract with Adidas. You can't tell from this picture, but this is a Nike jersey, an authentic one to boot.

I picked this up in 2000 at a Nike Outlet in Maryland, along with a couple other jerseys, for an incredibly low price. It uses a super-stretchy Dri-fit material that was common on a lot of Nike's workout gear at the time, but was uncommon on jerseys. Unlike most NBA (and NFL) jerseys of the time, this one didn't have a visible mesh. Even taking that into consideration, the material was surprisingly light, which made the stitched-on numbers seem extra heavy in relation to the rest of the jersey. It's amazing that it took until 2010 for Adidas to use a mesh-like material on the numbers, making them lighter and more in line with the rest of the jersey.

Kobe wore No. 8 for 10 seasons, and has so far spent six in No. 24. It'll be interesting to see what the Lakers do with retiring his number if he ends his career with an even split, or even a difference of a year or two. I'd think they'll probably end up officially retiring 24, and "unofficially" retiring 8, keeping it out of circulation for as long as possible. As of now, no one's worn it for the Lakers since Kobe in '05-06, but it's a relatively common number around the league, with 20 different players wearing 8 at some point this season.

Jersey Monday should continue every Monday until I run out of jerseys to spotlight. And since I’ve got more than 190 of them, that could be awhile.