Rui Hachimura on why he picked No. 28 for Lakers: ‘No. 2 for Gianna and No. 8 for Kobe’

Zach Stevens
3 Min Read

When the Los Angeles Lakers traded guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round draft picks for Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura last week, they gave themselves some much-needed depth and productivity at both forward positions.

In choosing his jersey number for his new team, Hachimura decided to pay tribute to arguably its greatest player ever. He said he picked No. 8, Kobe Bryant’s old number, but also No. 2 for Bryant’s daughter, which translated to No. 28.

“I ask him, ‘Have you chosen a number yet?’” Jeanie Buss said of a conversation she had with Hachimura shortly after his arrival. “He said: ‘Yeah I am wearing No. 28…No. 2 for Gianna and No. 8 for Kobe.’”

Both the elder and younger Bryant, as well as seven other souls, died in a tragic helicopter crash about three years ago on the northwest outskirts of the greater Los Angeles area.

Prior to the Hachimura trade, the Lakers suffered from a drastic lack of viable depth behind LeBron James. When he would go to the bench, the drop-off in talent and skill was palpable, as they were forced to depend on Troy Brown Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson and Wenyen Gabriel, all of whom play hard but lack offensive skills.

Hachimura, on the other hand, is a proven scorer who can get buckets one-on-one, especially in the midrange area. He also runs the floor well in transition, giving L.A. another weapon on its fast break, and he is efficient when it comes to scoring at or near the rim.

In Monday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets, he was in the starting lineup, as LeBron James and Anthony Davis both sat out. The Japan native scored 16 points in 28 minutes on 6-of-13 shooting.

The Lakers still need to do a better job of utilizing him in their offense and running plays specifically for him. As long as they do so, they can reduce James’ workload and help keep him fresh down the road.

After losing to the Nets, as well as the Boston Celtics on Saturday, L.A. badly needs wins in order to get into the Western Conference playoff picture. In order to do so, Hachimura will need to play to his full capabilities, and his teammates will need to help him do so.

Share This Article
Zach has always had a profound love and respect for the Lakers that has inspired him to write about the franchise. He has a great deal of admiration for LeBron James, and his overall knowledge about the NBA has made him a solid addition to the Lakers Daily staff.