Report: Kobe Bryant statue will be 1st in series of physical tributes to honor Lakers legend’s legacy

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers have officially announced that they will unveil a statue of Kobe Bryant on Feb. 8, 2024, with that date representing the uniform numbers he wore during his legendary career.

“Hi everyone,” Bryant’s widow Vanessa said in the video announcement. “As you know, Kobe played his entire 20-year NBA career as a Los Angeles Laker. Since arriving in the 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 a statue so that his legacy can be celebrated forever. Hope to see you there.”

The Lakers will be hosting the NBA champion Denver Nuggets that night.

The announcement coming on Aug. 24 also represents Kobe Bryant’s two jersey numbers (8 and 24) that are retired in the rafters of Arena.

According to the Lakers, Kobe Bryant took part in the initial planning of his anticipated statue. The statue will be the first in a series of physical tributes to honor his legacy.

The five-time NBA champion last played in the 2015-16 NBA season. He died in a helicopter accident with eight other people, including his teenage daughter Gianna, in January 2020 at the age of 41. He would have turned 45 on Wednesday, when Vanessa Bryant paid tribute to her late husband.

Talk of a statue for one of the NBA’s all-time greatest players began shortly after the tragedy. It resurfaced after LeBron James hinted at retirement following last season, which drew talk of a statue for the current Lakers star countered by the fact that Kobe Bryant does not yet have one.

The NBA icon averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game during his NBA career. He was an 18-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion, one-time league MVP and two-time NBA Finals MVP and inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.

His influence throughout the sport continues to this day, with Pau Gasol giving a heartwarming recollection of his former teammate in his Hall of Fame induction speech earlier this month. Another former teammate, Jordan Clarkson, very recently said Kobe Bryant is his G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) after helping him during his first two NBA seasons.

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry also recently reflected on what it meant for Kobe Bryant to recognize his killer instinct early in his career, and Shaquille O’Neal to this day maintains that he and his former teammate would demolish any duo matched up against them.

Five former Lakers players have statues in Star Plaza outside Arena, which was formerly known as Staples Center: O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Magic Johnson and Jerry West. The plaza also includes statues of former Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn, Los Angeles Kings player Wayne Gretzky and boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya, among others.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.