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Italian basketball team retires Kobe Bryant’s No. 24

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 04: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers leaves the court following a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on February 4, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Los Angeles defeated New Orleans 99-96. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

ITALY — The first Italian basketball team that Kobe Bryant’s father played for has retired the Lakers superstar’s jersey to the rafters in a pregame ceremony.

Fans of NPC Rieti held up a huge banner in Italian before the game against Scafati in Italy’s second division that read: “You began to play here and as an adult you made us dream. Our colors are with you in the sky.”

Then a gold Lakers’ jersey with Bryant’s No. 24 was lifted to the ceiling of the PalaSojourner arena.

Rieti was where Kobe’s dad Joe Bryant made his Italian basketball debut in 1984 when Kobe was 6. Joe Bryant went on to play for three other teams in Italy and Kobe grew up in the country until moving back to Pennsylvania for high school.

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