LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — At Staples Center tonight, it was tough to find a Lakers jersey without a number 24 or 8 on it.
The Lakers took on the Indiana Pacers on Sunday just hours after Kobe Bryant announced that this season would be his last year in the NBA.
Bryant, who is in his 20th NBA season, released an emotional letter on the Players Tribune website before the team’s game on Sunday.
Gordon Gerry bought tickets to tonight’s game a few days ago with the intent of bringing his grandsons.
The long time Laker fan anticipated this would be Bryant’s last season, but today’s announcement of his retirement didn’t make it any easier to handle.
“It’s hard to lose players like that — Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, he’s right up there with them,” Gerry said.
73-year old Dorothy Sharp has been a season-ticket holder for 37 years, and it pains her to see Kobe Bryant suffering his recent streak of injuries.
“Of course we want to see him play,” Sharp said.
“Even when he’s hurt, he played. So we’re used to that, but it’s time. It’s time,” she added.
Tony Ochoa and his family learned about the news on the drive to the game, and the fact that this letter from Kobe, titled “When We First Met I Was Just A Kid” would be included in every program for Sunday night’s game.
Fans attending tonight’s Lakers game are getting this letter from Kobe. pic.twitter.com/gRSpuaKoTE
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) November 30, 2015
“I’m going to frame it, that’s what I plan to do,” Ochoa said.
For Gordon Gerry’s grandsons, the news sent their thumbs into overdrive, as they started checking ticket availibility for Kobe’s final season.
Daniel Delgado told KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen that he will, “Get a job and pretty much use the money to buy tickets to as many games as I can, to see Kobe play for his last season,”.
If the Lakers do not make the playoffs, and Bryant remains healthy, his last game will be on April 13th at Staples Center against the Utah Jazz.