Kobe Bryant played his 20 NBA seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers until his retirement in 2016; Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in 2020; The NBA legend has three statues unveiled in his memory
10:42, UK, Friday 09 February 2024
The Los Angeles Lakers paid tribute to Kobe Bryant by unveiling a new statue of the NBA legend outside their home arena on Thursday.
The five-time NBA champion, who played all 20 seasons of his career with the Lakers, died in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others.
The 19-foot bronze statue represents his index finger after his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006, with Lakers legends gathered outside Crypto.com Arena for the milestone unveiling.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and former head coach Bill Jackson spoke at the ceremony, along with Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss, former Laker Derek Fisher and Bryant's widow Vanessa.
“As I watch the current generation of star players follow in Kobe's footsteps with tremendous scoring games, I am proud to know that he is still inspiring a game that is so special to him,” said Vanessa Bryant.
She added: “I'll leave you with one of my husband's wonderful quotes. 'Leave the game better than you found it, and when it's time to leave, leave a legend'. And he did just that.”
The first Bryant statue emerged as confetti flew from behind a golden curtain. It depicts Bryant in a white Lakers uniform with the number 8. The base of the statue is a triangle commemorating Bryant's triangle offense under Jackson and assistant coach Tex Winter.
Another statue will depict Bryant wearing his No. 24 jersey, and the third will feature Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. The date of the ceremony, February 8, 2024, is significant because No. 2 is his daughter's jersey number and her father wore both No. 8 and No. 24 during his Hall of Fame career.
Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O'Neal, Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and announcer Chick Hearn are also immortalized with statues representing the Lakers in downtown Los Angeles.