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Statue of Kobe Bryant unveiled outside Arena in honor by Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers debuted a 19-foot high, 4,000-pound bronze statue to honor Kobe Bryant in a ceremony outside of Arena on Thursday.

Bryant is the seventh Lakers legend to be commemorated with a statue in Star Plaza, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, announcer Chick Hearn, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Jerry West.

The unveiling date holds special significance as it aligns with the numerology of Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who tragically passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020. The date of the unveiling, February 8, 2024 (2/8/24), combines both of Bryant’s jersey numbers (No. 8 and No. 24) and Gianna’s number (No. 2) when she played on the Mamba Sports Academy team.

The pose for Bryant’s statue had been kept secret until the unveiling, and it captures Bryant’s career-high 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006. The sculpture is surrounded by five championship trophies, representing the five Lakers titles in Kobe’s career. The base of the statue features the inscription “KOBE BEAN BRYANT “Black Mamba”” and includes the box score from the 2006 game. A quote from Kobe saying, “Leave the game better than you found it. And when it comes time for you to leave, leave a legend,” is also etched on the side of the base. According to Vanessa Bryant, there will be three Kobe statues outside Arena: one wearing No. 8, one wearing No. 24 and one with Gianna.

Bryant retired in 2016 after 20 seasons with the Lakers, achieving numerous accolades including five championships, two Finals MVPs, one MVP, two Olympic gold medals, 18 All-Star teams, and 11 All-NBA first-team selections. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on May 15, 2021 and is the first and only Laker to have two jersey numbers retired and hanging from the Arena rafters.

The ceremony, which took place under an oversized white tent due to weather conditions, was closed to the public but will be open for general viewing on Friday at 10 a.m. PST. The Lakers also honored Bryant by wearing their black-and-gold snakeskin “Black Mamba” City Edition uniforms against the Denver Nuggets that evening. The most iconic moment with the jerseys happened against Denver when Anthony Davis hit a game-winning 3-pointer in Game 2 of the 2020 Western Conference finals.

‘There are two more Kobe statues planned: one wearing No. 24 and one with Gianna. Location and date are TBD.’ – Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) February 9, 2024

Guard Austin Reaves shared that the lights that shine on Bryant’s numbers on the walls inside the Lakers’ practice facility serve as a constant reminder of Bryant’s greatness and impact.

Vanessa Bryant and the Lakers organization collaborated on the statue’s design, which was created by the Illinois-based couple Omri Amrany and Julie Rotblatt-Amrany, the same individuals who have created all the statues outside Arena.

General viewing will be open for the public on Friday at 10 a.m. PST, and the Lakers hosted the defending champion Denver Nuggets that evening. LeBron James expressed that honoring Bryant through the statue is a beautiful moment, not only for him but for his family and the community.

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(Photo of Kobe Bryant: Harry How / Getty Images)


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