The Los Angeles Lakers will pay tribute to the late Kobe Bryant with a statue of the Hall of Fame guard in front of their arena, the team said on Thursday.
A bronze statue of Bryant will be unveiled on February 8, 2024, at Star Plaza outside Crypto.com Arena before the Lakers’ game against the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets.
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife, made the announcement in a video posted on social media on what the club has dubbed “Kobe Day” — the eighth month and 24th day matching Bryant’s jersey numbers, 8 and 24.
“Kobe played his entire 20-year NBA career as a Los Angeles Laker,” Vanessa Bryant said. “Since arriving in this city and joining the Lakers organisation, he felt at home here, playing in the City of Angels.
“On behalf of the Lakers, my daughters and me, I am so honored that, right in the center of Los Angeles, in front of the place known as the house that Kobe built, we’re going to unveil his statue so his legacy can be celebrated forever.”
Bryant, an 18-time NBA All-Star, retired in 2016 as the first player in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons with a single franchise.
He was killed in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, at age 41 along with his daughter Gianna and seven others.
Bryant’s legendary legacy includes helping the Lakers win five NBA titles from 2000-2010, winning the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award in 2009 and 2010, taking the 2008 NBA MVP award. He was named to the All-NBA First team 11 times and the All-Defensive first team nine times.
Bryant, a two-time Olympic champion, is the Lakers’ all-time leader in regular season scoring with 33,643 points, games played at 1,346, steals at 1,944, 3-pointers made at 1,827 and free throws made at 8,378.
The Lakers said Bryant had taken part in initial plans for an anticipated statue at the arena and that the statue was created by sculptor Julie Rotblatt Amrany.
Bryant’s statue will join those of Lakers greats Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and broadcaster Chick Hearn.
“Kobe Bryant was one of the most extraordinary athletes of all time and one of the most iconic individuals in the history of Los Angeles,” Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement.
“There’s no better place for Kobe to be honored with a statue than here, at the center of our city, where everyone can celebrate him and be inspired by his incredible achievements.”
Bryant won the NBA scoring titles in 2006 and 2007 and scored a career-high and franchise-best 81 points on Jan. 22, 2006 against Toronto. His jersey numbers were retired in 2017.
“Kobe’s transcendent spirit is always and forever in our hearts — inspiring us every day,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said.
“With the unveiling of this powerful and beautiful statue, he will have a physical presence, too.”