Kobe Bryant immortalized with a 19-foot bronze statue outside the Lakers' downtown arena


LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers unveiled a statue of Kobe Bryant on Thursday, honoring their late superstar with a 19-foot bronze likeness outside their downtown arena.

The 4,000-pound statue depicts Bryant in his white No. 8 jersey with his right index finger raised as he walked off the court following his 81-point performance against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006.

Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, said during the dedication ceremony that the statue is the first of three that will be created to honor the five-time NBA champion and top scorer in Lakers history. Another statue will feature Bryant in his No. 24 jersey, which he wore for the second half of his career, while a third will depict Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who died with him and seven others in a helicopter crash in January 2020.

The first statue was unveiled at a ceremony attended by dozens of Lakers greats and hundreds of season ticket holders. Vanessa Bryant spoke at the ceremony after remarks from owner Jeanie Buss, former teammate Derek Fisher, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and longtime Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

“I think of Kobe constantly, and I miss him and Gigi more than words can say,” Buss said. “But today, I’m filled with joy.”

The statue’s base reads: “Kobe Bean Bryant,” with his nickname, “Black Mamba,” carved below. The platform is surrounded by five replicas of the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The base also features the box score from his 81-point game, along with a Bryant quote: “Leave the game better than you found it. And when it comes time for you to leave, leave a legend.”

Bryant is the sixth Lakers player and seventh team employee to be honored with a statue in Star Plaza outside of the arena known as the Staples Center throughout Bryant’s career. He joins Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Lakers announcer Chick Hearn.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA



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