On February 7, 2024, the Los Angeles Lakers unveiled a statue of their late legend Kobe Bryant at the Crypto.com Arena, formerly known as the Staples Center. The statue is a tribute to Bryant’s remarkable career and life, which ended tragically in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020. The statue is also a symbol of the Lakers’ history and culture, as well as the fans’ love and admiration for Bryant.
The Unveiling of Kobe Bryant’s Statue at Crypto.com Arena
- The statue of Kobe Bryant was a long-awaited tribute by the Lakers and their fans, who had been petitioning for it since his death. The statue was originally planned to be unveiled on August 24, 2020, which was declared as Kobe Bryant Day in Los Angeles, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the project.
- The statue is located at the main entrance of the Crypto.com Arena, facing Figueroa Street. This is a significant location, as it is where Bryant entered and exited the arena for most of his 20 seasons with the Lakers. It is also where thousands of fans gathered to mourn and celebrate his life after his death.
- The statue is a way of commemorating Bryant’s legacy and impact on the Lakers, who won five NBA championships with him. Bryant is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, and the best Laker ever. He holds several franchise records, including most points, most games, and most seasons. He also inspired generations of players and fans with his work ethic, passion, and competitiveness.
The Design of the Statue
- The statue features Bryant in his iconic pose of shooting a fadeaway jumper, with his right arm extended and his left leg lifted. The statue is made of bronze and stands at 10 feet tall, mounted on a 4-foot pedestal. The pedestal has four sides, each displaying one of Bryant’s jersey numbers: 8, 24, 10, and 33. The first two are his numbers with the Lakers, the third is his number with Team USA, and the fourth is his number at Lower Merion High School.
- The statue was designed by Omri Amrany, a renowned sculptor who has created several other sports statues, including those of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal at the Crypto.com Arena. Amrany collaborated with Bryant’s former coaches, Phil Jackson and Mike Krzyzewski, to capture his essence and personality. Amrany said that he wanted to portray Bryant as a “warrior, a leader, and a friend”.
- The statue was created using advanced technology, such as 3D scanning, modeling, and printing. Amrany said that he used over 1,000 photos and videos of Bryant to create a realistic and accurate representation of his face and body. He also used a special coating to protect the statue from weather and vandalism.
The Ceremony and Reactions
- The ceremony of unveiling the statue was attended by Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, and their four daughters, Natalia, Bianka, Capri, and Gianna, who also died in the helicopter crash. Vanessa Bryant gave an emotional speech, thanking the Lakers, the fans, and the city for honoring her husband and daughter. She then pulled down a purple curtain to reveal the statue, which was greeted by cheers and applause from the crowd.
- The ceremony was also attended by several special guests, including Bryant’s former teammates, such as O’Neal, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, and Robert Horry, as well as his former rivals, such as Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and Michael Jordan. Jordan, who was Bryant’s idol and mentor, said that he was proud of Bryant and his achievements, and that he considered him as a “little brother”.
- The statue received positive reactions from the public and the media, who praised its likeness and symbolism. Many fans took photos and selfies with the statue, and some left flowers, candles, and memorabilia. Some celebrities, such as Snoop Dogg, LeBron James, and Barack Obama, also expressed their admiration and respect for Bryant and the statue on social media.
Future Plans for More Bryant Statues
- The statue at the Crypto.com Arena is not the only one planned for Bryant. The Lakers announced that they will erect two more statues of Bryant outside the arena, one depicting him as a young player wearing number 8, and the other depicting him as a veteran player wearing number 24. The Lakers said that they want to honor both phases of Bryant’s career, and that they will unveil the statues in the next two years.
- The Lakers are not the only ones who want to honor Bryant with statues. Several other organizations and institutions have expressed their interest or plans to create statues of Bryant, such as the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, where Bryant was inducted in 2020, the NBA, where Bryant was a 18-time All-Star and a 4-time MVP, and Lower Merion High School, where Bryant started his basketball journey.
- The statues of Bryant are part of the ongoing celebration of his legacy, which also includes renaming streets, schools, and parks after him, creating murals and artworks of him, and wearing his jerseys and shoes. Bryant’s fans and admirers hope that his statues will inspire and motivate future generations to follow his example and pursue their dreams.
The statue of Kobe Bryant at the Crypto.com Arena is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest players and people in the history of basketball and the world. The statue captures his skill, spirit, and style, and reflects his impact and influence on the Lakers, the fans, and the city. The statue is also a reminder of his life and legacy, which will live on forever in the hearts and minds of those who knew him, loved him, and admired him.