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Lakers to unveil Kobe Bryant statue in February

Lakers to unveil Kobe Bryant statue in February

Late franchise icon Kobe Bryant’s Lakers legacy will physically be immortalized on Feb. 8, 2024 – a date chosen to further honor the Bryant family.

The Lakers and Vanessa Bryant on Thursday morning announced that they will unveil Kobe’s bronze statue at Star Plaza outside of Crypto.com Arena on Feb. 8, 2024, before the Lakers’ home game against the defending champion Denver Nuggets that evening.

The franchise said in a news release that the Feb. 8 ceremony will be outside the arena and details will be “released in the coming months.”

“As you know, Kobe played his entire 20-year NBA career as a Los Angeles Laker,” Vanessa said in a video the Lakers posted on social media at 8:24 a.m. Thursday. “Since arriving in this city and joining the Lakers organization, 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 are going to unveil his statue so that his legacy can be celebrated forever.”

Kobe’s legacy immortalized.

2•8•24 pic.twitter.com/WHQBXZJ2gD

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 24, 2023

The date of the ceremony holds extra meaning, representing the No. 2 jersey number of the Bryants’ daughter, Gianna, as well as Kobe’s Nos. 8 and 24 uniforms he wore during his 20-year NBA career with the Lakers.

Kobe, Gianna and seven others died in a Jan. 26, 2020, helicopter crash. Kobe would’ve turned 45 on Wednesday.

In their news release, the Lakers said Bryant’s statue is the first in a series of physical tributes to honor his legacy. He’ll become the seventh Laker to be honored with a statue, joining Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jerry West and Chick Hearn.

The Lakers said Bryant participated in the initial planning of the statue following his retirement after the 2015-16 season. The statue was created by Julie Rotblatt Amrany of the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt Amrany.

“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 governor Jeanie Buss said in a statement. “There is 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, an 18-time NBA All-Star who won five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs and one regular-season MVP award with the Lakers, retired as the first player in league history to play at least 20 seasons with a single franchise.

He holds several Lakers’ records, including but not limited to: points (33,643), steals (1,944), 3-pointers (1,827), regular-season games played (1,346), playoff points (5,640), playoff games played (220) and playoff 3-pointers (292).

His 81 points in a Jan. 22, 2006, home win over the Toronto Raptors remains the second-most points for a player in an NBA game.

The Lakers retired Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys on Dec. 18, 2017, and he was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on May 15, 2021.

“Kobe’s transcendent spirit is always and forever in our hearts – inspiring us every day,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement. “And now, with the unveiling of this powerful and beautiful statue, he will have a physical presence, too. A place on the hallowed ground Kobe created, where we can all gather and pay honor to a mighty and great man.”

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