The Los Angeles Lakers unveiled a statue that immortalized Kobe Bryant outside Crypto.com Arena on Thursday, 2/8/24. The unveiling date incorporates a symbolic gesture to the jersey numbers Bryant wore with the Lakers, No.8 and No. 24, along with the No. 2, which Kobe’s daughter Gianna wore on her youth basketball team.
Vanessa Bryant Unveils First Statue of Kobe Bryant
Alongside Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, in an emotional ceremony were Lakers legends and many other NBA all-time greats telling stories of the late Kobe. Vanessa Bryant introduced the statue by quoting Kobe: “Leave the game better than you found it, and when it comes time for you to leave, leave a legend,” she said. “And that he did.” The statue’s pose features a silhouette of Kobe in his No.8 jersey from his most iconic performance, his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006. Vanessa Bryant added, “For the record, Kobe picked the pose you’re about to see. If anyone has any issues with it, tough s***.” It makes sense for Kobe to pick a pose from his most dominant NBA performance.
Stuart Scott 🤝 Kobe Bryant.
On the 14th anniversary of Kobe's 81-point game, a look back at a classic highlight call from a SportsCenter legend 🐐 pic.twitter.com/xlW6fzIYb7
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 22, 2020
The statue’s base includes inscriptions documenting some of Kobe’s most outstanding career achievements. This isn’t a short list either, as Bryant was a five-time NBA champion, winning two Finals MVPs and the NBA’s 2007-2008 MVP. Kobe was named to the All-Star team 18 times, along with 15 All-NBA selections, including 11 first-team appearances. Kobe was a known lethal scorer; he’s the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history, leading the NBA in scoring twice throughout his career, but Kobe wasn’t just a one-way player as he would be selected to the All-Defensive team 12 times. However, this won’t be the only statue. The Lakers announced that another statue will feature Kobe in his #24 jersey. The final statue will feature Bryant standing alongside his daughter Gianna, who tragically died in a 2020 helicopter crash with her father, Kobe, and seven others in Southern California.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 9, 2024
Los Angeles Lakers Legends Commemorate Kobe Bryant
NBA greats Dwyane Wade, Candace Parker, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver were among those in attendance to honor Kobe Bryant. Lakers legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Jerry West attended the event along with Kobe’s teammate, Robert Horry, from Kobe’s early seasons with Los Angeles. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol from the Lakers’ 2009 and 2010 championship seasons attended the event along with Derek Fisher, who played 13 seasons alongside Bryant in the backcourt after both were drafted by the Lakers in 1996 and spoke fondly of Bryant as a player and a person. “In the realm of sports, Kobe was not merely a great player. He was a dedicated father, a pillar of strength for his family. His commitment to fatherhood was unwavering, just as his dedication to the game was. He didn’t just play the game. He defined it.”
Phil Jackson, who won six NBA championships with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls before joining the Lakers to coach Bryant in each of his five NBA championships, told a story that perfectly encapsulates Kobe as a player and a person. During an arranged meeting with Jordan, Phil Jackson explained that a young, ambitious Kobe told the five-time NBA MVP, widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time, “Michael, I can take you one one-on-one.”
Phil Jackson shares a story of setting up a meeting between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan and Kobe telling MJ “I can take you one on one.” 😂pic.twitter.com/BTwXGxyXhv
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) February 9, 2024