Basketball: 8 facts about Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant addresses the crowd at halftime as both his #8 and #24 Los Angeles Lakers jerseys are retired at Staples Center on Dec 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Kobe Bryant addresses the crowd at halftime as both his #8 and #24 Los Angeles Lakers jerseys are retired at Staples Center on Dec 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The Los Angeles Lakers have retired both of Kobe Bryant's jersey numbers, No. 8 and No. 24.

Bryant, 39, retired last year and wore both numbers during his 20-year career, all of which was spent with the Lakers. Here are eight facts about the five-time NBA (National Basketball Association) champion:

1. Bryant is the first player in NBA history to see two jerseys retired by the same team. He started his career in 1996 wearing the No. 8 jersey, and wore the No. 24 from 2006 to 2016.

2. His No. 8 jersey is one of the NBA's bestsellers, but it was not the first number the American ever wore.

Bryant started his high school basketball career at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia wearing the No. 24. He then switched to No. 33, the same number his father wore in high school.

3. Bryant is a polyglot who speaks fluent English, Spanish and Italian. When he was six, he moved to Italy with his family and picked up Italian and Spanish there.

Bryant also knows how to curse in Serbian.

4. The former shooting guard is widely considered as one of the sport's greatest players. His achievements include scoring a total of 33,643 points, the third-most in league history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928).

5. Bryant's storied career has inspired many other fellow athletes, including Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina. The 23-year-old world No. 6 named her dog after Bryant, telling Singapore media last year that her pet "is a tiny dog, but he has a big name".

6. Bryant is named after the Kobe cut of beef, after his parents saw it on a menu in a restaurant.

7. He was part of a rap group in high school. The group was signed by Sony Entertainment. Bryant's first single made its debut in 2000 and featured supermodel Tyra Banks.

8. Bryant made history in 2006 by scoring a career-high 81 points in the Lakers' 122-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors. His 81-point game remains the second-highest point total in NBA history, behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962.