In what has been an emotional day for the NBA, teams across the league have made touching tributes to Kobe Bryant, who was one of nine people — his 13-year-old daughter Gianna among them — to be killed in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, California on Sunday morning. As the week goes on, more teams are expected to pay tribute to the Lakers legend, but there’s one team that has made a permanent gesture: The Dallas Mavericks.
In a statement released by Mavericks team governor Mark Cuban on Sunday, the Mavericks said they will retire No. 24, one of the two numbers Bryant wore during his illustrious 20-year career:
Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban issued the following statement on the passing of Kobe and Gianna Bryant. pic.twitter.com/Ua41YrvTMZ— Mavs PR (@MavsPR) January 27, 2020
Cuban also expressed his condolences from his personal Twitter account:
Damn. RIP Mamba. May your memory be a blessing— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) January 26, 2020
Bryant and Cuban didn’t always play so nice during Bryant’s career.
During a 2013 interview on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Ben and Skin Show,” Cuban brought up the possibility of the Lakers amnestying Kobe Bryant for financial flexibility:
“If you look at their payroll, even if Dwight (Howard) comes back, you’ve got to ask the question: Should they amnesty Kobe? You just don’t know, right? It’s the same reason I wouldn’t get rid of Dirk (Nowitzki).
To no one’s surprise, those comments — even if the context was hypothetical — didn’t go over well with Bryant, and on Feb. 24, 2013, Bryant tallied 38 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists. That game is known as the “Amnesty THAT” game because following the game, Bryant took to Twitter to send a not-so-subtle message to Cuban:
Amnesty THAT— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) February 24, 2013
It seems like that was just the competitive nature of their relationship, though, and Cuban’s gesture in the wake of Bryant’s passing is evidence of the respect the two men held for each other. The question now is whether the rest of the league will follow suit — 12 players currently wear the No. 24 — or if they have something else planned to honor Bryant.