The Los Angeles Lakers will dedicate a statue of franchise icon Kobe Bryant on Thursday outside their home, Crypto.com Arena.
The date of the ceremony — 2/8 — is symbolic. No. 2 was the jersey number of aspiring basketball player Gianna Bryant, and her father wore No. 8. The two and seven others were killed Jan. 26, 2020, in a helicopter crash.
The Lakers have been mum about the design of the statue, and it will be dedicated in front of a small group and not for public viewing, except on television. Locally heavy rains this week have forced the ceremony to be held under a tent.
The public can visit the statue beginning Friday morning.
Bryant joined the Lakers as a teenager straight out of high school and spent his entire career in Los Angeles, winning five NBA titles and retiring after the 2015-16 season. In the history of a franchise filled with great players, Bryant holds numerous team records, including points and games played.
His 33,643 points are fourth in NBA history, with three men who’ve played with the Lakers — LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone — standing ahead of him.
“It’s only right,” James told the Los Angeles Times about the statue. “I mean, the guy spent two decades with the organization, won multiple championships, set a precedent of what it means to strive for excellence. … His accomplishments speak alone. Not only his inspiration, but how he inspires off the floor as well, in the community and across the landscape of basketball. So, I think it’s a beautiful moment, not only for him but for his family.”
Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O’Neal, Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and announcer Chick Hearn have been immortalized with statues at the downtown Los Angeles venue.
–Field Level Media
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