The Los Angeles Lakers will unveil a statue of Kobe Bryant in front of their downtown arena on February 8th.
The 17-time NBA champion Lakers announced Thursday a plan to honor Bryant, the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history and a beloved mainstay of the franchise for 20 seasons. Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
According to the Lakers, Bryant was involved in the initial planning of his statue after retiring in 2016. He is the sixth former Lakers player and seventh team member to be honored with a statue in the Star Plaza outside of the arena, which has been the Lakers’ home ground since 1999.
The 2/8/24 date of the revelation is striking: Kobe wore number 8 and 24 in each half of his Lakers career, while Gianna wore number 2 in youth basketball. The Bryants were flying to a basketball competition along with seven others when their helicopter went down in fog in Calabasas, California.
Bryant’s statue will join those of Lakers greats Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and broadcaster Chick Hearn. Star Plaza also features statues of Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Dustin Brown and announcer Bob Miller of the Los Angeles Kings, as well as champion boxer Oscar De La Hoya.
The Lakers say they are planning “a series of physical tributes” to honor Bryant beyond the statue, which was designed by sculptor Julie Rotblatt Amrany.
“Kobe Bryant was one of the most extraordinary athletes of all time and one of the most iconic people in Los Angeles history,” Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. “There is no better place to honor Kobe with a statue than right here in the center of our city, where everyone can celebrate him and be inspired by his incredible achievements.”
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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