The Los Angeles Lakers have announced their intention to commemorate the legendary Kobe Bryant, a Hall of Famer, by erecting a statue in front of the arena where he dedicated the majority of his illustrious 20-year NBA career. The tribute, planned for February 8, 2024, at Crypto.com Arena, seeks to honor Bryant, who secured his place as the fourth highest scorer in NBA history and became an integral part of the Lakers for two decades. The significant date of the announcement, August 24, coincides with “Kobe Day,” signifying his jersey numbers with the Lakers: 8 and 24.
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife, unveiled the plan to erect a statue at Star Plaza, located outside the stadium, ahead of the Lakers’ game against the Denver Nuggets on the evening of February 8. This gesture marks the sixth instance of a former Lakers player and seventh team member being honored with a statue at the arena, the team’s home since 1999. Vanessa Bryant expressed her gratitude for the city of Los Angeles and the Lakers organization, highlighting that Kobe’s legacy will be celebrated perpetually with this statue.
Kobe Bryant’s connection to the Lakers is deeply rooted, having spent his entire 20-year NBA journey with the franchise. His widow emphasized this bond, noting that Kobe felt at home in the City of Angels. Following his tragic passing, Vanessa Bryant and her daughters have been actively involved in preserving his legacy. The statue, set to be revealed at the center of Los Angeles, holds a special significance, being situated in front of the arena often referred to as “the house that Kobe built.”
Tragedy struck in January 2020 when Kobe and his daughter Gianna lost their lives in a helicopter crash. The unveiling date, February 8, 2024, carries symbolic weight as Kobe wore jersey numbers 8 and 24 during distinct periods of his Lakers career, while Gianna donned the number 2 for her youth basketball games.
Kobe Bryant’s post-retirement involvement in planning the statue was instrumental. This statue marks the initial installment in a series of physical tributes intended to honor his remarkable legacy. The statue’s creation was entrusted to renowned sculptor Julie Rotblatt Amrany from the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt Amrany.
The esteemed list of Lakers luminaries immortalized with statues includes Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, and Chick Hearn. These statues are displayed at Star Plaza, which also features tributes to other sports legends like Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Dustin Brown, and boxer Oscar De La Hoya.
The Lakers’ governor, Jeanie Buss, hailed Kobe Bryant as an extraordinary athlete and an iconic figure in Los Angeles history. She emphasized the statue’s significance, asserting that there could be no better location for it than in the heart of the city, where people can celebrate his remarkable achievements and draw inspiration from them.
The unveiling ceremony on February 8, 2024, will be held outside the arena, and further details will be disclosed in the upcoming months. Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ general manager, highlighted that Kobe’s indomitable spirit continues to resonate in the hearts of many and with the statue’s unveiling, his presence will have a tangible place for people to gather and pay homage.
Kobe Bryant’s accolades are extensive, including 18 NBA All-Star appearances, guiding the Lakers to five NBA titles, earning Finals MVP honors twice, and being named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2008. He holds numerous franchise records for both regular season and playoff performance, leaving an indelible mark on the Lakers and the entire basketball world.