This just in: Kobe Bryant will be switching jersey numbers next season. ESPN.com is reporting that Bryant will go from his present No. 8 jersey to No. 24, the number he wore at Lower Merion High School, in Ardmore, Pa. (He also wore No. 33, his dad's old high school number). The reason? ESPN isn't telling, if it in fact knows. We're actually surprised that more athletes don't do this: Switching numbers every couple of seasons generates more jersey sales, as people have to scramble to update. Next season wearing a No. 8 Lakers jersey could get you beat up on the playground for being a nerd, rather than getting you beat up for being a Lakers fan.
As to the No. 24, that's one of the most hallowed numbers in all of sports; Rick Barry wore it, as did Sam Jones, Moses Malone and Bill Bradley. In baseball, it was worn by the great Willie Mays. And, of course, current Atlanta Braves infielder Wilson Betemit.
But why is Kobe switching? It could be a way to get closer to the legend of Michael Jordan (23). Or, he could just be nuts. At any rate, the Lakers' current No. 24, veteran Jim Jackson, shouldn't be worried in the least. Nope, not a bit.