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Sixers’ Joel Embiid gets permission to wear No. 24 to honor Kobe Bryant

Joel Embiid, Kobe Bryant, Sixers

In his first game back from the hand injury he suffered earlier this month, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid will be sporting a new jersey number. Rather than his usual number 21, the Sixers star will be wearing number 24 as a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant.

Many NBA players and teams have found ways to pay homage to the former Los Angeles Lakers star who passed away in a tragic helicopter accident this weekend. The crash took the lives of Bryant as well as eight other passengers, which included Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gigi.

Unlike most players who have done similar gestures this week, Embiid had to get special permission from the Sixers franchise to wear number 24 per Michael Lee of The Athletic. The reason being that number 24 is retired by the 76ers as it was worn by NBA Hall of Famer Bobby Jones.

A native of Cameroon, Embiid has credited Bryant many times as one of the reasons he started playing basketball at the age of 15. Bryant’s impact on the current generation of NBA players simply cannot be understated as the 18-time All-Star and five-time champion inspired countless young players as one of the greatest NBA players of all time.

The aforementioned hand injury has kept the All-Star big man out for Philadelphia’s last nine games but Embiid is now set to play as the 76ers face off against the Golden State Warriors.

In 31 games this season, the 76ers seven-footer is averaging 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 32.2 percent from deep.