Growing up in Compton, California, it seemed almost certain that Kendrick Lamar would grow up idolizing Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. It’s fitting that he would get the opportunity to pay tribute to the retired star at the party celebrating his career and retiring both his jerseys. He did so with a performance of “Loyalty,” the perfect song from his recent album, DAMN., to describe Bryant’s 17-year tenure on one of the NBA’s most storied franchises. Check out some video highlights below and above, courtesy of NBA commentator Rachel Nichols
Kendrick was previously tapped to pay homage to Kobe Bryant during his final game in 2016 with a short film titled “Fade To Black.” Kendrick even compared himself to Kobe Bryant in his world-shaking verse from Big Sean’s “Control,” calling himself “uncoachable,” an epithet that was often associated with a younger, afroed Bryant during his early gunner days alongside Shaq.
Meanwhile, Kobe’s jersey retirement celebration was rightfully as over-the-top as his career demanded, with Nike even bringing back their much-beloved MVPuppets ad featuring muppet versions of Kobe and Lebron James from the hyped 2010 NBA Playoffs. Kobe Bryant is the sixth NBA player with two retired jersey numbers, but the first to have both jersey numbers retired for the same franchise. At least he can finally say he beat Jordan at something.