You would think it’s a very difficult task to chose a single pose that would immortalize Kobe Bryant’s legendary career, so the Lakers decided to let him decide for himself. His widow Vanessa Bryant revealed that before the player passed away, he chose which would be the moment he wanted sculpted in bronze forever on a statue outside the Lakers‘ arena.
This past Thursday, the Los Angeles club unveiled the first out of three statues that will honor the basketball great’s memory. This one, features the Hall of Famer in his No. 8 uniform, pointing to the sky as he walked off the court after his famous 81-point performance against the Raptors back in 2006.
“For the record, Kobe picked the pose you’re about to see, so if anyone has any issues with it, tough s—,” shared Vanessa outside the Crypto.com Arena.
Kobe Bryant’s statue is inspired by his pose after his 81-point game in 2006 👏 pic.twitter.com/X2eXbFvXjY
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 9, 2024
This new statue, which weighs 4,000 pounds, sits on a black, triangle-shaped base (which honors coach Phil Jackson and assistant Tex Winter) and will be surrounded by five replica Larry O’Brien Trophies. At the base, one of Kobe’s quotes reads: “Leave the game better than you found it. And when it comes time for you to leave, leave a legend.”
“When I found out there was going to be three statues, I just said, ‘That’s fitting,’” said Rob Pelinka, who is currently the vice president of basketball operations and general manager for the purple and gold. “Because it’s just how the City of Angels feels about Kobe. He deserves something that no other athlete that’s ever played here deserves.”
Before Vanessa spoke, Lakers governor Jeanie Buss, ex-teammate Derek Fischer, all-time great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jackson all gave it a go at the microphone. “But the night he got 81, we needed all those points,” his former coach recalled. “They were running a zone against us, and we devised a little offensive system that would exaggerate Kobe having a one-on-one opportunity with either a power forward, a small forward or Jalen Rose. He ate that up.”
Pelinka, one of his closest friends, also shared a memory. “Also today I was just kind of struck with him pointing up to the heavens and just knowing that he and Gigi are in a good place,” he added. “The pose took on some different meaning there for me.”
As the statue was unveiled, many friends and great players took the opportunity to reminisce on Bryant’s greatness
The NBA world took the honoring of the Lakers legend as a chance to voice their immense admiration for him as a person and player. Abdul-Jabbar, one of the best athletes to ever grace the purple and gold jersey, dedicated a thoughtful tribute to Kobe.
“This statue may look like Kobe, but really it’s what excellence looks like, what discipline looks like, what commitment looks like, what love of family looks like,” said the all-time great. “The statue is a wonderful contribution. It captures a person frozen in time, while at the same time acknowledges that the reason there is a statue in the first place is because that person is timeless.”
Fisher, his former teammate who was a part of the same draft class and even joined the Lakers together as rookies in 1996, talked about watching him grow before his eyes.
“In the realm of basketball, he wasn’t just a player, he was a legend, like an actual living legend,” said the Los Angeles champion. “That’s what it felt like to be around him.”