The Los Angeles Lakers will unveil a statue to Kobe Bryant in front of their home arena, the “Crypto.com Arena”, in February next year. The franchise made the official announcement on Thursday.
The Los Angeles Lakers are memorialising their basketball hero Kobe Bryant, who passed away over three years ago. The NBA team announced on Thursday that a bronze statue of Bryant will be unveiled on Star Plaza outside the arena on February 8, 2024, before the Lakers’ home game against the reigning champions from Denver.
The 18-time All-Star, who only played for the L.A. team in his 20-year professional career, once wore jersey numbers 8 and 24 for the Lakers. On 26 January 2020, Bryant, then 41, was killed in a helicopter crash.
The date also refers to Gianna Bryant, the Lakers legend’s daughter, who also died in the accident. The then 13-year-old was wearing the number two jersey on the basketball court. For this reason, the statue will then be unveiled in the second month of the year, i.e. February.
Seventh Lakers player to have his own statue
“Since he came to this city and joined the Lakers, he felt at home here and played in the City of Angels,” Vanessa Bryant said in a video directed at fans, released at 8.24am local time.
The widow of the former superstar, who was decorated with five NBA titles, stressed, “On behalf of the Lakers, my daughters and I, it is a great honour that we will unveil his statue in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, in front of the place known as the house that Kobe built, so that his legacy can be celebrated forever.”
The statue had been planned after Bryant’s retirement in 2016, and he had still participated in the initial designs himself. Bryant is the seventh Lakers player to be honoured with his own statue, following Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jerry West and Chick Hearn.