The Los Angeles Lakers unveiled one of three Kobe Bryant statues outside the Crypto.com Arena as family and friends remembered the legend.
The death of Kobe Bryant is still a sore spot for fans of the NBA champion and even those who cheered against him. When the late basketball great initially retired, fans knew it was a matter of time before he would immortalized with a statue for his greatness, and on February 8, his tribute statue was finally revealed.
During a small ceremony that was streamed online, not only was the first Kobe statue revealed but it was announced that the late legend will have three more made that will be placed outside of the Crypto.com Arena.
According to ESPN, Kobe’s widow Vanessa Bryant made it clear that she’s not listening to opinions about the first statue because Kobe had a say in it before his passing.
“For the record, Kobe picked the pose you’re about to see, so if anyone has any issues with it, tough s—,” Vanessa said.
Lakers GM Rob Pelinka revealed the three-statue idea came from the need to do something nobody else had done and it’s a testament to Los Angeles’ love for the icon.
“When I found out there was going to be three statues, I just said, ‘That’s fitting,'” said Pelinka, Bryant’s longtime friend, former agent and current the vice president of basketball operations and general manager of the Lakers.
“Because it’s just how the City of Angels feels about Kobe. He deserves something that no other athlete that’s ever played here deserves.”
During the ceremony, Phil Jackson revealed that the statue’s pose came from the infamous night Kobe scored 81 points.
“The night he got 81, we needed all those points,” Jackson said. “They were running a zone against us, and we devised a little offensive system that would exaggerate Kobe having a one-on-one opportunity with either a power forward, a small forward or Jalen Rose. He ate that up.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also spoke and reminded everyone what Kobe stood for and how the statue represents just that; excellence.
“This statue may look like Kobe, but really it’s what excellence looks like, what discipline looks like, what commitment looks like, what love of family looks like,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “The statue is a wonderful contribution. It captures a person frozen in time, while at the same time acknowledges that the reason there is a statue in the first place is because that person is timeless.”
Kobe’s late daughter Gigi Bryant was also remembered during the ceremony.
Before passing away in a helicopter crash with her dad, Gigi wore the number 2 while her father wore the number 8 and the number 24 which made up the unveiling date of 2-28-24.
Gigi will be immortalized in one of the three statues with her father.
Watch the Kobe Bryant statue unveiling below.
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