Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie and Orlando Magic guard Terrence Ross will change their jersey numbers from No. 8 to honor Kobe Bryant.
Dinwiddie announced Tuesday on Twitter that he will change his jersey from No. 8, which Bryant wore, to No. 26.
Dinwiddie explained on Twitter that he chose 26 in part because his son, Elijah, was born on April 20 and Dinwiddie was born on April 6.
Fans also quickly pointed out that 26 is the sum of Bryant’s other jersey (No. 24) and Bryant’s daughter Gianna’s jersey (No. 2). The Nets’ next game is Wednesday against the Pistons.
Dinwiddie has said he regards Bryant as his childhood hero. He got emotional when speaking to reporters hours after Bryant’s death following the Nets game against the Knicks.
“For him to tell me that in his book I am an All-Star and stuff like that. Guys talk about the popularity contest before and you don’t win things like that when [you’re] me. So for him to say that I didn’t need to be selected anymore because I was an All-Star and it wasn’t just my family saying it, it was the guy.”
The Magic announced later Tuesday that Ross would wear No. 31 — instead of No. 8 — beginning with Saturday’s game against the Heat. Ross had worn No. 31 before switching to No. 8 this season.
Typically, jersey changes need to be approved the season prior to a player actually being able to change it. The league’s rule on the matter states that any request to change a jersey number needs to happen by Feb. 15 of the prior season — in other words, a player would typically have another two-and-a-half weeks to declare their intent to change their jersey number for next season.
In the same rule, however, the league states that, “All changes requested after the deadline … will be will be approved on a case-by-case basis,” as they were in this case for both Dinwiddie and Ross.
This past summer, the league was willing to grant LeBron James a similar waiver to change his jersey number from No. 23 to No. 6, in order to allow incoming teammate Anthony Davis to continue wearing No. 23, as he had throughout his entire seven-year career with the New Orleans Pelicans, but said Nike needed to sign off on it. Ultimately, Nike did not, and Davis instead chose to wear No. 3.
The league also allowed Trae Young to wear Bryant’s No. 8 for the opening tip of Sunday’s game against the Washington Wizards. Young took an 8-second backcourt violation while wearing No. 8, then changed to his typical No. 11 for the rest of the game.