8 or 24

Which Kobe was better?

As Kobe Bryant’s tremendous career winds down one game at a time, many tend to look back at all of the accomplishments of his hall-of-fame career. They see his five championship rings, his 2007-2008 MVP season, and his 17 all-star game appearances along with many spectacular dunks and buzzer beaters.

“Kobe is undoubtedly, the best shooting guard since Michael Jordan,” said junior Josh Powell. “He will be dearly missed from basketball fans everywhere.”

During this trip down memory lane some questions may pop up as well. How different would his career had been if he could have stayed more healthy? What if he was never traded to the Lakers? And the topic of this article, which Kobe was better, no. 8 (1997-2006) or no. 24 (2007-2016)? The reason for why Kobe changed numbers was because he had worn Nos. 24 and 33 in high school, but both of these numbers were unavailable when he first signed with the Lakers.

No. 8: 

Kobe's third consecutive title wearing No. 8
Kobe’s third consecutive title wearing No. 8

Beginning his career, Kobe bursted onto the NBA platform and showed America his great athleticism. Despite being in the youth of his professional career, Kobe turned in some amazing clutch performances, especially when it counted in the postseason. Kobe won three consecutive titles during these seasons  He hadn’t quite jumped into the leadership role yet because of Shaquille O’Neal.

During the start of his career, he had a “good-guy” image, but that eventually changed. In 2003,  Bryant was accused of sexual assault.  Although the charges would be dismissed, the accusations and trial tarnished Kobe’s image almost irreparably.

No. 8 would end his run by missing the postseason for the first time, then following that up with a first round loss to Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns

Most memorable moment: Scoring 81 points in a game. NBA.com described this game as a “where were you when it happened” kind of game. It occurred on January 22, 2006 in a 122-104 win over the Raptors. He shot 61 percent from the field and made 18/20 free throws to contribute 66 percent of the Lakers’ points in that game. The only player to score more points in a single game is the great Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

No. 24: 

Kobe Bryant winning his last title in 2010
Kobe Bryant winning his last title in 2010

Kobe won back some of his fans with many great performances, but once more failed to beat the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs. The losing ended right there, as the Lakers acquired 7 ft. Pau Gasol to help carry the load. For three consecutive seasons, Bryant and Gasol led the Lakers to three straight Finals appearances, winning two of them in ’09 and ’10.  His numbers during these years improved vastly because he did not get as much playing time during his first two seasons.

Kobe will end his career wearing no. 24 proudly. ESPN analyst Stephen A Smith described Kobe Bryant as follows, “Kobe Bryant is a superstar, and when you are a superstar, in every city, in every arena, wherever you go, they go to see you. There is nobody else in this league more superstar than Kobe Bryant.”

Most memorable moment: winning his fifth and last title against the Boston Celtics. Two seasons prior, the Celtics had beaten the Lakers in the championship, and Kobe was looking for revenge. His legendary coach Phil Jackson was on his way out, he and most of his best teammates were at least thirty years or older, and it was most likely going to be his last shot. Kobe went on to join other legends such as Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabar to win at least 5 championships in Los Angeles.

Kobe’s career stats
No. 8 uniform Statistic No. 24 uniform
10 Seasons 10
16,866 Points 15,868
0 Kia MVPs 1
8 All-Star appearances 9
2 All-Star Game MVPs 2
4 NBA Finals appearances 3
3* NBA titles 2*
0 NBA Finals MVPs 2


To say which jersey number Kobe was better wearing is tough to say, but he was nothing short of legendary in both.