The Los Angeles Lakers unveiled a statue of Kobe Bryant on Thursday, honoring their late superstar with a 19-foot bronze likeness outside their downtown stadium.
The 4,000-pound statue depicts Bryant wearing his white No. 8 jersey with his right index finger raised as he walked off the court following his 81-point performance against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006.
Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, said during the dedication ceremony that the statue is the first of three that will be created to honor the five-time NBA champion and leading scorer in Lakers history.
Another statue will feature Bryant wearing his No. 24 jersey, which he wore during the second half of his career, while a third will depict Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who died with him and seven others in a helicopter crash in January. 2020.
‘And for the record, Kobe chose the pose you’re about to see. So if anyone has a problem with that, fuck it. It is what it is,’ she added.
The Los Angeles Lakers unveiled a statue of Kobe Bryant on Thursday in honor of their late star.
His widow, Vanessa, gave an emotional speech during the unveiling ceremony in Los Angeles.
The first statue was unveiled in front of dozens of Lakers greats and season ticket holders.
Bryant and his daughter, Gianna (pictured left), died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
The first statue was unveiled in a ceremony attended by dozens of Lakers greats and hundreds of season ticket holders. Vanessa Bryant spoke at the ceremony after comments from owner Jeanie Buss, former teammate Derek Fisher, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and longtime Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
“Needless to say, today is an especially sad day for us as Kobe and Gigi are not here for what is supposed to be an incredibly happy moment and Kobe’s legacy,” Vanessa began. ‘Kobe has many people who have supported him around the world from the beginning. “And this moment is not just for Kobe, it is for all of you who have supported him all these years.”
“And for the fans here in Los Angeles, this is a special city that Kobe was very proud to represent. “You welcomed him with open arms and you have been very important to him, our family and his legacy.”
“I think about Kobe constantly and miss him and Gigi more than words can express,” Buss said. “But today I am full of joy.”
The base of the statue reads: “Kobe Bean Bryant,” with his nickname, “Black Mamba,” engraved below. The platform is surrounded by five replicas of the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The base also includes his game score of 81 points, along with a quote from Bryant: “Leave the game better than you found it.” And when the time comes to leave, leave a legend.
Bryant is the sixth Lakers player and seventh team employee to be honored with a statue in Star Plaza outside the arena known as Staples Center throughout Bryant’s career. He joins Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn.
The date of the ceremony, February 8, was symbolic. The number 2 was the jersey number of aspiring basketball player Gianna Bryant, and her father wore the number 8. The other two and seven people died on January 26, 2020 in a helicopter crash.
The 4,000-pound statue depicts Bryant wearing his white No. 8 jersey with his index finger raised.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss (left) and NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar attended the event.
Vanessa Bryant revealed that the statue is the first of three that will be created in her honor
Buss, Derek Fisher, Abdul-Jabbar, Phil Jackson and Vanessa Bryant (LR) sitting on stage
The dedication took place in front of a small group and was not viewed by the public except on television, and heavy local rains this week forced the ceremony to be held under a tent. The public will be able to visit the statue starting Friday morning.
Bryant joined the Lakers as a teenager fresh out of high school and spent his entire career in Los Angeles, winning five NBA titles and retiring after the 2015-16 season. In the history of a franchise full of great players, Bryant holds numerous team records, including points and games played.
His 33,643 points are fourth in NBA history, with three men who have played with the Lakers (LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone) ahead of him.
“It’s the right thing to do,” James told the Los Angeles Times of the statue. ‘I mean, the guy spent two decades in the organization, won multiple championships and set a precedent for what it means to strive for excellence.
‘His achievements speak for themselves. Not just his inspiration, but how he inspires from the court, in the community and across the basketball landscape. So I think it is a beautiful moment, not only for him but also for his family.”