Thursday is Kobe Bryant Day in Orange County and Los Angeles, and for the occasion, the Lakers announced that the NBA great will be honored with a statue outside Crypto.com Arena.
The statue unveiling is scheduled for Feb. 8, 2024, when the Black Mamba will join six other Laker greats — Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jerry West and Chick Hearn — in earning a statue at the Lakers’ home arena, the Lakers said in an announcement.
That date, 2/8/24 when written numerically, is tied to Bryant’s two jersey numbers (8 and 24), which are also the inspiration behind the celebration of Mamba Day on Aug. 24.
Fittingly, the statue was also announced at 8:24 a.m. in a video featuring the late Lakers legend’s wife, Vanessa Bryant.
“As you know, Kobe played his entire 20-year NBA career as a Los Angeles Laker,” said Vanessa Bryant. “Since arriving in this 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 his statue so that his legacy can be celebrated forever.”
Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss added that Bryant is “one of the most iconic individuals in the history of Los Angeles.”
“There is no better place for Kobe to be honored with a statue than here, at the center of our city, where everyone can celebrate him and be inspired by his incredible achievements,” she said.
Sculptor Julie Rotblatt Amrany, who also created the iconic Chicago statue of Michael Jordan in a pose similar to his jumpman logo, has been tapped to handle Bryant’s sculpture.
The Black Mamba “participated in the initial planning of the anticipated statue to come at Star Plaza” after his retirement, and this statue is just “the first in a series of physical tributes to honor his legacy,” the team said.