A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA

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A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA

SACMedia

A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA

SACMedia

Etched in bronze, Kobe Bryant joins Star Plaza as the newest statue outside the house he built

Immortalized forever in purple and gold lore
Kobe+insignias+and+tribute+signs+were+found+throughout+all+of+Chick+Hearn+Way+and+Olympic+Blvd.+to+honor+the+Black+Mamba+on+his+special+day.
Robbie Doctor
Kobe insignias and tribute signs were found throughout all of Chick Hearn Way and Olympic Blvd. to honor the Black Mamba on his special day.

On Aug. 24, 2023, recognized in Los Angeles as “Kobe Day,” the Los Angeles Lakers announced it will commemorate Kobe Bean Bryant with the illustrious honor of building a statue in front of the Crypto.com Arena.

To honor Bryant, the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history and a beloved mainstay synonymous with championships and Los Angeles, with a statue on Feb. 8, is an honor few deserved and have earned.

Bryant joins former teammate Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Chick Hearn as Lakers with statues in Star Plaza outside the arena. Star Plaza also includes statues of the Los Angeles Kings’s Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Dustin Brown and announcer Bob Miller, along with champion boxer Oscar De La Hoya.

The last Laker legend to receive the honor was Shaquille O’Neal who correctly predicted the next Laker to receive immortality in purple and gold was the man who helped him three-peat alongside him while going back-to-back in a second dynasty run – Kobe Bean Bryant.

Bryant’s accolades alone make him deserving of a statue in front of the stadium he called home for 20 years.

Bryant’s accolades make him easily a Top 10 player in NBA history. (Anthony Solorzano)

If the accolades aren’t enough, shooting two key free throws after rupturing his Achilles tendon, having athletic trainer Gary Vitti manually reduce his dislocated index finger multiple times in his career and still giving his opponents buckets, playing through a torn right shoulder labrum and shooting the rest of the game left-handed, playing 11 games donning a mask after breaking his nose in the 2012 All-Star Game, playing through a Grade 2 ankle sprain in the 2000 NBA Finals after Jalen Rose intentionally tried to take him out of the series, playing through an entire playoff run with an avulsion fracture on his right index finger and leading his team to its 15th NBA championship would solidify the grit, tenacity, ferocity and determination that warrants a statue amongst the other legends in Laker lore.

As Kobe Bryant said in the 2012-2013 season, “soreness is something you get through pretty easily but injuries are something you have to be careful with,” by taking care of your body through “stretching, physical training and making sure you prepare yourself so injuries can be minimized.”

The date Feb. 8 was chosen to commemorate and honor both Kobe and his daughter, Gianna, the Lakers chose this date in honor of the three jersey numbers worn by the Bryants: No. 2 for Gigi and No. 8 and No. 24 for each of the jersey numbers Kobe donned in the purple and gold.

2. 8. 24.

So poetic a Hollywood scriptwriter couldn’t have envisioned it any other way.

Vanessa Bryant, his wife, announced the honor on social media.

Following his retirement, Bryant participated in the initial planning of the anticipated statue to come at Star Plaza. This was the first in a series of physical tributes to honor his legacy. The statue was created by renowned sculptor Julie Rotblatt Amrany of the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt Amrany.

It wouldn’t be appropriate to honor the Mamba without the Lakers playing the game he so loved and was dedicated to. Their opponent – the reigning NBA Champion Denver Nuggets.

To further commemorate and honor Bryant, the Lakers announced on Feb. 6 that the team would don the signature Black Mamba uniforms for the game, a jersey worn on select occasions and one the Lakers have only lost one game wearing them in.

Fans were disappointed to learn that having a ticket to the game would not grant them access to the ceremony and the statue would not be open to the public until Friday, Feb. 09 beginning at 10 a.m.

Although initially a cloudy day, the sun shined down on the house that Kobe built. No rain or inclement weather to deter the celebration.

To everyone’s surprise, Vanessa Bryant announced that Kobe would be honored with not one but three statues: one of him wearing the No. 8, one of him and his daughter Gianna and one of him wearing the No. 24.

Several Kobe’s teammates and other Laker legends were in attendance for the private ceremony: Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry, Caron Butler, James Worthy, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar Jamaal Wilkes and Kurt Rambis to name a few. Other close friends and family members were also present for the ceremony.

Unfortunately, the most iconic and fellow statue enshrinee was not in attendance because he was working as part of the Inside the NBA on TNT broadcast – Shaquille O’Neal.

The bases of the statue are in the shape of a triangle as an homage to former Lakers assistant coach Tex Winter and former head coach Phil Jackson who popularized the triangle offense. Bryant also revealed the pose for the first statue Kobe chose and said, “If you have a problem with it, tough shit.”

Before the statue was unveiled, Bryant left us with one of her husband’s favorite quotes.

“Leave the game better than you found it. And when it is time for you to leave, leave a legend,” she said.

The first of three statues is of Kobe wearing the No. 8 after scoring 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. (Jovan Buha of The Athletic)

Chants of “Kobe” echoed across Chick Hearn Way and outside the Crypto.com Arena. It has not been announced when the other two statues will be unveiled but the organization will announce it on social media months in advance.

Thousands of fans showed up early to the game to ensure they received the commemorative Kobe Bryant replica Mamba jersey given to fans as part of the game experience. Throughout the game, the Lakers continued to show the late legend’s career highlights and chants of “Kobe, Kobe, Kobe” would erupt.

Although the Lakers lost the game, 106-114, it was ironic and somewhat fitting that on the day of his statue unveiling the Lakers would lose by eight points and begin to rain after the game and festivities.

His legacy, now immortalized, will continue to live on and continue to inspire the next generation of basketball players and artists to become the best versions of themselves.

Rest in paradise Mamba and Mambacita.

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About the Contributor
Robbie Doctor, Managing Editor
Robbie Doctor is the Managing Editor.

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