Kobe Bryant: Los Angeles Lakers unveil new statue in front of home complex to commemorate NBA legend | NBA News

Kobe Bryant played his 20 NBA seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers until his retirement in 2016; Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in 2020; The NBA legend has three statues unveiled in his memory

10:42, UK, Friday 09 February 2024

The Los Angeles Lakers paid tribute to Kobe Bryant by unveiling a new statue of the NBA legend outside their home arena on Thursday.

The five-time NBA champion, who played all 20 seasons of his career with the Lakers, died in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others.

The 19-foot bronze statue represents his index finger after his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006, with Lakers legends gathered outside Crypto.com Arena for the milestone unveiling.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and former head coach Bill Jackson spoke at the ceremony, along with Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss, former Laker Derek Fisher and Bryant's widow Vanessa.

“As I watch the current generation of star players follow in Kobe's footsteps with tremendous scoring games, I am proud to know that he is still inspiring a game that is so special to him,” said Vanessa Bryant.

Vanessa Bryant speaks during a ceremony before the Lakers game against the Denver Nuggets.

She added: “I'll leave you with one of my husband's wonderful quotes. 'Leave the game better than you found it, and when it's time to leave, leave a legend'. And he did just that.”

The first Bryant statue emerged as confetti flew from behind a golden curtain. It depicts Bryant in a white Lakers uniform with the number 8. The base of the statue is a triangle commemorating Bryant's triangle offense under Jackson and assistant coach Tex Winter.

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Another statue will depict Bryant wearing his No. 24 jersey, and a third will feature Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. The date of the ceremony, Feb. 8, 2024, is significant because No. 2 is his daughter's jersey number and her father wore both No. 8 and No. 24 during his Hall of Fame career.

Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O'Neal, Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and announcer Chick Hearn are also immortalized with statues representing the Lakers in downtown Los Angeles, formerly known as the Staples Center.

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