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City of Angels Honors Its Black Mamba: First Kobe Bryant Statue Unveiled

City of Angels Honors Its Black Mamba: First Kobe Bryant Statue Unveiled

The first of a total of three statues of Kobe Bryant that will soon appear throughout Los Angeles was unveiled the night before on the plateau in front of his Lakers' gym

by Sededin Dedovic
City of Angels Honors Its Black Mamba: First Kobe Bryant Statue Unveiled
© Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

The City of Angels shone a little brighter last night when the first of three Kobe Bryant statues planned to grace various parts of Los Angeles was unveiled in front of his beloved Staples Center (now known as the Arena).

Standing nearly six meters tall, the bronze sculpture immortalizes the legendary basketball player in his element, forever linked to the arena where he brought home five championship banners and scored most of his incredible 33,643 career points.

Kobe Bryant's career of 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers is a story intertwined with winning 5 titles, individual brilliance and great dedication to the game and training. His achievements go beyond mere statistics, they etched his name indelibly in the history of the Lakers.

He is certainly one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and these statues represent a worthy monument to such greatness.

He led the Lakers to three consecutive titles with Shaquille O'Neal (2000-2002) and two more after Shaqu's departure (2009-2010).
He won Finals MVP awards in both series after Shaqu's departure, and was a true team leader.

The inscription at the base, etched next to a figure dressed in the iconic No. 8 jersey, embodies the very essence of Bryant's spirit: "Leave the game better than you found it. And when it's time to leave, leave a legend behind." into the sky, echoing the iconic 2006 game against Toronto in which he scored a whopping 81 points, a feat he accomplished while playing live in front of his grandmother for the first time, and has gone 40+ 50+ points many times throughout his career.

The touching tribute is part of a three-statue initiative spearheaded by the Lakers in collaboration with the Bryant family to honor the legacy of one of the greatest basketball players the world has ever seen. Tragically, Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others, died in a helicopter crash in the hills above Los Angeles in 2020, leaving a great void in the hearts of fans, fellow athletes, teammates and the wider sports community.

After that fall, he became an eternal legend, and the statues will remind some new generations to investigate who the Black Mamba was. "I think it's the right thing to do," Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said, his voice heavy with emotion.

"I immediately agreed." The unveiling ceremony, held just before the team's game against the Denver Nuggets, drew a star-studded crowd, including NBA legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Many big names from the Lakers and the NBA came to celebrate the life and achievements of their fallen friend.

Abdul-Jabbar, a Lakers icon himself, gave a moving speech that resonated deeply with the crowd. "This statue reminds us of Kobe, but it goes beyond that. It speaks volumes about what it means to be outstanding, what it means to be disciplined, what it means to be dedicated, what it means to love your family.

This statue is a beautiful testament. It captures a man frozen in time, reminding us that the only reason a statue exists at all is because the person it represents is immortal." he said, his voice full of respect.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during a unveiling ceremony for the Kobe Bryant Statue at Arena on February 08, 2024 in Los Angel© Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

The two remaining statues, planned for locations yet to be announced, will each depict different aspects of the man who transcended sports, becoming a global icon and a source of inspiration for millions.

Many of the best basketball players in the world grew up with Bryant as a role model watching his brilliant games. It will be difficult to convey all the glory and greatness of Kobe to the next generations, but those who enjoyed his games surely have respect.

18-time NBA All-Star: Third most All-Star selections in NBA history.
15-time All-NBA selection: 11 first-team appearances, showcasing his outstanding offensive abilities. 12-time All-Defensive team selection: 9 first-team appearances, highlighting his defensive abilities and versatility.

2 NBA leading scorers: 2006, 2007 NBA slam dunk contest winner: 1997
The Lakers' all-time leading scorer with 33,643 points. These individual results along with 5 championship titles with the Lakers speak volumes about the kind of man he is.

In addition to these records, Kobe has many other records, but we have chosen the most important ones. Bryant was known for his dedication to training and fierce desire to win, inspiring teammates and fans alike. His approach to the game and Mamba Mentality became a symbol of mental fortitude and a wind at the back of his teammates.

It has become a global phenomenon, influencing athletes and individuals in various fields. His influence on the Lakers and the entire basketball community is immeasurable, and his legend will live forever in purple and gold.

Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers