Today is a special day for former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. The Hall of Fame guard will have both his Lakers jerseys retired during halftime of the Lakers game against the Golden State Warriors tonight.
While Bryant never played for the Denver Nuggets, his legacy certainly has a few stops in Colorado. I remember Bryant being one of the most vilified athletes of any sport to come to Pepsi Center, and fans certainly voiced their disgust with him whenever the Lakers came to town. Bryant was accused of raping a woman in Edwards, Colorado in 2003. The case was dropped because his accuser refused to testify in court, and while Bryant admitted to committing adultery, he was never found guilty. Part of the reason he switched his jersey number from No. 8 to No. 24 is likely to help shift the media narrative towards something less damaging to his brand.
One of the most memorable games Bryant had (as No. 24) was in the 2009 Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers would win the series, 4-2, with Game One being among the most memorable games in Nuggets history. Bryant hit six free throws down the stretch to win the game for the Lakers, 105-103. Many of us will recall that Bryant wouldn’t have been in that situation to win the game at the free throw line if Anthony Carter had been able to successfully complete an in-bounds pass that was stolen by Trevor Ariza.
Carmelo Anthony scored 39 points to counter Bryant’s 40 points, and the Nuggets lead most of the game ... until Carter threw the ball away with 10 seconds left in a tie game. Lord, this is painful to remember.
It’s a game that’s really important in Nuggets history, and on a day when the NBA remembers Kobe Bryant, it’s a good opportunity to take a trip back for Nuggets fans as well.