Kobe Bryant was an enemy of the Phoenix Suns, and fans respected him for it. His sudden loss has left us all wanting to pay tribute to his legacy in different and unique ways. The Suns should do so be un-retiring Tom Chambers’ #24 and letting Devin Booker wear it.
Dear Phoenix Suns,
The passing of nine people on January 26, 2020, which included Kobe Bryant and his beautiful daughter Gianna, has rocked the NBA’s foundation to its core. The shock we have all felt, as fans, has been as unique as the individual navigating their emotions.
In response to these tragic events, numerous players and teams have chosen different ways to pay tribute to Kobe. Madison Square Garden lit their exterior lighting with purple and gold. Every team has taken an emotional 24-second shot clock violation to begin each game, followed by a corresponding 8-second backcourt violation by the opposition; an homage to Kobe’s 24 and 8 jersey numbers.
We have seen stars such as Joel Embiid don the number 24 in a game to pay their respects to the Black Mamba. Teams wear #24 jerseys during warm-ups. Players who have worn the #8, such as Spencer Dinwiddie, Maurice Harkless, and Terrence Ross, have chosen not to do so anymore.
The Dallas Mavericks are retiring the Black Mamba’s number, as no member of the team shall ever wear the number 24 again.
The Phoenix Suns are in a unique situation.
Tom Chambers proudly wore #24 during his five seasons with the Phoenix franchise. The efforts he displayed whilst wearing the number were worthy of Ring of Honor glory. The team retired his number on April 18, 1999.
Devin Booker, the current shooting guard for the team, idolized Kobe Bryant. It can be seen in his game: his shooting form, his turnaround jump shot, his baseline drives, his desire to win, and his tenacious mentality on the court. Recently it was suggested that he should be called the “Cactus Mamba” for his similarities to the soon-to-be Hall of Famer. He has donned the Kobe AD Purple Stardust’s nearly every game this season, his nightly homage to the player he patterned his game after.
The tragic events leading to the passing of Bryant have clearly affected Devin Booker. His eyes welled with tears when the Mavericks paid their pre-game respects so much he had to temporarily leave the court prior to tip-off to compose himself. His hero is gone and he is hurting.
The Suns have the ability to do something special, both to honor Kobe Bryant and to assist the emotional healing of their young star. With the blessing of Tom Chambers, un-retire the #24 and allow Devin Booker to wear it.
The honor would show Devin Booker the faith from the organization that he has earned. Devin has bought into this process, this organization, and this community. He has seen the darkest days of the franchise and still, he wants to be a Phoenix Sun. The team has the opportunity to fortify the relationship with the future of the franchise by allowing him to honor Kobe Bryant.
We all are hurting. Seeing Devin Booker wear the #24 would not only remind us of Kobe Bryant, it would also assist in the healing. It would be a constant display of his legacy, how his worth ethic and game molded a generation of young kids.
Get TC on the phone, propose the question, and make it happen.
At least one (and probably many more) Suns fan