Daily Sports Smile: 'Stranger Things' star pays tribute to Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant left a major impression on many generations with his talent and winning mindset. Two years after the helicopter crash that killed him and his daughter Gianna, the Black Mamba continues to be immortalized in pop culture.
"Stranger Things" actor Caleb McLaughlin, who plays Lucas Sinclair, wore No.8 on his jersey in the show's fourth season, which debuted last weekend. Netflix confirmed that the number is, in fact, a tribute to Bryant, as McLaughlin is a "huge fan" of the basketball icon.
In the show, Sinclair joins the Hawkins High basketball team to try to fit in with the cool crowd. He channels his Mamba Mentality as the Tigers march toward the championship.
Bryant wore No.8 during his playing days in Italy and when he was drafted to the Lakers in 1996. He won his first three out of five championships with the Lakers in that number. In 2021, a signed Mamba rookie jersey sold for a record $3.69 million, the highest-price ever for a basketball jersey.
Bryant changed his number to 24 in 2006. It was one of the numbers from his high school days at Lower Merion. (He also wore 33 while he was at the school and the Lakers had already retired the number for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. All the cool kids have the red Kobe jersey in their collection.) Bryant's feud with Shaquille O'Neal ended when the big man was traded in 2004 and a sexual assault case filed against Bryant was closed after he settled a civil lawsuit out of court in 2005. The number change served as a fresh start for the basketball star.
The Lakers retired both of his numbers after he ended his 20-year career in 2016. Bryant, an 18-time All-Star, is the only player in NBA history to have two numbers in the rafters.
The fourth season of "Stranger Things" is making history in its own way. The show has broken several records, including Netflix's biggest debut for an English-language show with fans inhaling 286.7 million hours of the program in its first weekend. It was also the No.1 show in 83 countries.
The Black Mamba was a global icon and his legacy continues with the world's eyes on his No.8.