The long wait for a memorial statue of the late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is over.
The first of Bryant's three statues was unveiled Thursday afternoon outside Crypto.com Square in downtown Los Angeles.
Bryant's widow, Vanessa, unveiled the statue and announced that the Lakers would complete a total of three statues of the five-time NBA champion.
First, he wears the No. 8 jersey to signify the first 10 years of Bryant's Hall of Fame career. A second statue wears the No. 24 jersey to signify the second (and final) chapter of his NBA career. Finally, a third statue with his daughter, Gianna Bryant.
“If you think about it, he's had two careers here already,” said Robert Horry, Bryant's teammate. Spectrum Sports Net After unveiling. “One wears No. 8 and the other wears No. 24. So it's fitting that he has three statues here.”
Vanessa thanked Lakers owner Jeanie Buss for working with her on designing the statues, and called Crypto.com Arena, formerly known as Staples Center, “the house that Kobe built.”
“Today I am filled with joy because in the future, I know that fans will gather here, in the shadow of this statue, next to this building where Kobe gave us so many memories,” Jeanie Buss said. “And we will share what he meant to us, and as we do, we will motivate a new generation to emulate the Mamba Mentality. And I might add that I bet we'll see photos of a marriage proposal taking place here, inspired by Kobe and Vanessa's true love story.”
Vanessa also chose the date for the statue's unveiling: February 2, 2024. 2/8/24, which is a number in honor of Gianna's No. 2 jersey, and Bryant's No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys with the Lakers. Kobe and Gianna were among nine people killed in January 2020, after the helicopter they were traveling in crashed in the mountains in Calabasas, California.
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The first statue of Bryant joins a slew of other Lakers legends inside the “Star Plaza” at Crypto.com Arena. In addition to Bryant, Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jerry West, and Hall-of-Fame Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn all have statues inside Starr Plaza.
“I'm grateful to all the fans,” Vanessa said. “Kobe has so many people around the world who have supported him since the beginning, and this moment is not just for Kobe, but for everyone who has supported him all these years. And for the fans here in Los Angeles, this is a special city that Kobe was so proud to represent. It makes me happy to see the amount of love The one you have for all of us. We love you back.
Los Angeles Kings legends Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille also have statues in Starr Plaza, as does boxer Oscar De La Hoya.
The statue was unveiled during a special ceremony before the Lakers' game against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, in which the team will wear “Black Mamba” jerseys designed by Bryant. The statue will be opened to the public one day later at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, February 9.
The statue shows Kobe wearing his No. 8 “Sunday White” jersey and pointing to the sky with his right hand. He also has his daughters' names tattooed on his arm. The statue is an artistic rendition of himFamous 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006.
Bryant is also surrounded by five Larry O'Brien Championship Trophies on the pedestal, to represent his five titles.
The pedestal's triangle-shaped base is a nod to the triangle offense of Tex Winter and Phil Jackson, which the Lakers ran during all five championship runs.
“He was serious about the game of basketball,” he said. Jackson during his speech at the unveiling ceremony. “When I came into the Laker organization, Jerry West made a room for Kobe to meet with me. It was private, before the party, and he talked about how many hours he spent watching the former team I coached play basketball. He was willing to get involved in that. He was willing To win championships.He was 22 years old.
The phrase “Kobe Bean Bryant “Black Mamba” is engraved into the base and includes the many accolades Bryant achieved during his illustrious career. It also features a famous Kobe quote, “Leave the game better than you found it. And when it's time for you to leave, leave a legend.”
The 19-foot-tall, 4,000-pound bronze statue was sculpted by Omran Omrani and Jules Roblat Omrani, an Illinois couple who were also commissioned to sculpt all of the other Lakers statues in Starr Plaza.
“For your information, Kobe chose the pose you are about to see,” Vanessa Bryant said before the unveiling.
Many Lakers legends with statues like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson were in attendance, as were many former teammates like Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and more.
Bryant played all 20 of his NBA seasons with the Lakers. During his tenure in the NBA, he was an 18-time NBA All-Star, winning five championships, an NBA MVP, two NBA Finals titles, and two Olympic gold medals.
Bryant was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on May 15, 2021.