Maybe it’s because the jersey is ripped to the side and the Lakers are showing their heart to the fans who would do anything for him. Perhaps it’s the perfect faded sweater, whose shape and footwork are testament to his meticulous attention to basketball detail. Maybe it’s the person chewing the collar of his jersey or clenching his fist, an image that shows his mad determination.
Or maybe the image the Lakers and his family choose to immortalize him outside of the team’s home arena is of him celebrating another NBA championship, arms outstretched, while confetti and admiration surround him on all sides.
It’s a closely guarded secret. But on February 8, 2024 — 02/24/2024 — the Lakers and Bryant’s family will unveil a statue celebrating the late Hall of Famer and revealing the pose they chose to see him alongside Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Chick Hearn and Kareem Abdul presents -Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal in front of the Crypto.com Arena.
“Kobe played his entire 20-year NBA career as a Los Angeles Laker,” Vanessa Bryant, the legend’s widow, said Thursday in a video announcing the project. “Ever since he arrived in this city and joined the Lakers organization, he felt at home here and played in the City of Angels. On behalf of the Lakers, my daughters and I, I am so honored to unveil his statue right in the center of Los Angeles, in front of the place known as the house Kobe built, so that his legacy will be visible be celebrated forever.”
The date is significant as it includes the #8 and #24 jersey numbers Bryant wore during his Lakers career, as well as the #2 jersey worn by daughter Gianna as a player at Bryant’s Mamba Academy.
Kobe and Gianna were among the nine people who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020 in Calabasas.
The Lakers released the statue’s announcement at 8:24 a.m. on Kobe Bryant Day, which is celebrated annually on August 24 in Los Angeles and Orange County, another nod to Bryant’s jersey numbers. The team commissioned Julie Rotblatt Amrany, the sculptor of the other Lakers memorials, to create the Bryant statue.
“Kobe’s transcendent spirit is always and forever in our hearts — he inspires us every day,” Bryant’s former agent and current Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement. “And now, with the unveiling of this powerful and beautiful statue, he will also be physically present. A place on the sacred ground Kobe created where we can all come together and pay homage to a powerful and great man.”
The Lakers will host Denver on February 8 when they unveil the statue, the first “in a series of physical tributes,” the team said. “Kobe Bryant was one of the most extraordinary athletes of all time and one of the most iconic people in Los Angeles history,” owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. “There is no better place to honor Kobe with a statue than here, in the center of our city, where everyone can celebrate him and be inspired by his incredible achievements.”