Ceremony attended by Lakers legends, season ticket holders, and fans, the Los Angeles Lakers unveiled a striking 19-foot bronze statue of Kobe Bryant outside their downtown arena. The statue, weighing 4,000 pounds, immortalizes Bryant in his iconic No. 8 jersey, with his right index finger raised, symbolizing his triumphant walk off the court after his historic 81-point performance against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006.
The dedication ceremony, held on Thursday, saw Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, reveal plans for two more statues to honor the Lakers legend. One statue will depict Bryant wearing his No. 24 jersey, worn during the latter part of his illustrious career, while the third will commemorate Bryant alongside his daughter, Gianna, who tragically perished with him and seven others in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
Addressing the gathering, basketball icon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke passionately about Bryant’s enduring legacy, describing the statue as a representation of excellence, discipline, and commitment. He emphasized how Bryant’s impact transcends sports achievement, embodying timeless values that inspire individuals to strive for their best.
The ceremony featured heartfelt speeches from luminaries such as former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, Bryant’s ex-teammate Derek Fisher, and team owner Jeanie Buss. Buss expressed profound joy at the prospect of future generations gathering around the statue to celebrate Bryant’s legacy and the indelible memories he created for Lakers fans.
Bryant, who retired in 2016 after an illustrious 20-year career with the Lakers, left an indelible mark on the NBA, ranking fourth on the all-time scoring list with 33,643 points. His accolades include 18 NBA All-Star selections and two NBA Finals MVP awards.
Even before his untimely death, Bryant remained a beloved figure in Los Angeles, celebrated in vibrant murals across the city. Vanessa Bryant emphasized that Kobe himself chose the pose for the first statue, underscoring its significance to his enduring legacy.
The base of the statue bears Bryant’s name and nickname, “Black Mamba,” along with replicas of the Larry O’Brien Trophy, symbolizing his championship success with the Lakers. It also features a QR code for fans to watch highlights of Bryant’s historic 81-point game, along with a poignant quote: “Leave the game better than you found it. And when it comes time for you to leave, leave a legend.”
Bryant’s statue joins those of other Lakers icons, including Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in Star Plaza outside the arena, now known as the Staples Center. Fisher summed up Bryant’s impact succinctly, describing him as not just a champion, but a standard-setter who redefined the game of basketball for generations to come.