On a date aligning with Kobe Bryant’s iconic jersey numbers — 8 and 24 — and his daughter Gianna’s No. 2, the Los Angeles Lakers unveiled a statue at Star Plaza outside Crypto.com Arena to honor one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, introduced the statue during an emotional dedication ceremony with a quote from the Black Mamba. “Leave the game better than you found it, and when it comes time for you to leave, leave a legend,” she said.
The 19-foot, 4,000-pound bronze statue shows Kobe in his No. 8 jersey with his right index finger raised as he walked off the court following his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006. Kobe’s legendary performance currently stands as the second-highest point total in an NBA game behind only Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962.
“For the record, Kobe picked the pose you’re about to see. If anyone has any issues with it, tough sh*t,” said Vanessa Bryant, who consulted on the design of the statue, which includes details such as tattoos of their daughters’ names on Kobe’s arm. It also features a triangle-shaped base as an homage to the triangle offense that Kobe played in, developed by Hall of Famer Tex Winter and implemented by 11-time championship head coach Phil Jackson. The base highlights some of Kobe’s career achievements.
Vanessa announced during the private ceremony — attended by several of Kobe’s former teammates and many Lakers greats — that the statue is the first of three that will be created to honor arguably the best to ever wear the purple and gold. Another statue will feature Bryant in his No. 24 jersey, which he wore for the second half of his career, while a third will depict Kobe and his daughter Gigi, who died with him and seven others in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
“I think of Kobe constantly, and I miss him and Gigi more than words can say,” said Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, who spoke during the event along with Vanessa, Jackson, Kobe’s longtime teammate Derek Fisher, Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and longtime Lakers TV commentator Stu Lantz.
Vanessa first announced the planned statue unveiling in a video shared to the organization’s Instagram page on Aug. 24, 2023. She said in the video: “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 his statue so that his legacy can be celebrated forever.”
Jeanie Buss said her late father, Dr. Jerry Buss, desired for Kobe to be a Laker for life. Now, Kobe is immortalized at Star Plaza outside the Lakers’ home arena, formerly Staples Center before being renamed Crypto.com Arena. He is the seventh Laker to have a statue, joining Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O’Neal, Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn.
“I’m filled with joy because in the future, I know fans will gather here in the shade of this statue beside this building where Kobe gave us so many memories, and we will share what he meant to us,” Jeanie said. “As we do so, we will motivate a new generation to emulate the Mamba Mentality.”