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Los Angeles Lakers Unveil Kobe Bryant Statue

Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty

The Black Mamba is officially forever at Los Angeles’ Arena.

On Thursday night, the LA Lakers held a ceremony downtown to unveil the statue in honor of one of the most accomplished players to wear the purple and yellow uniform: Kobe Bryant.

In the house that Bryant built, several speakers praised his character and basketball prowess on stage, including Jeanie Buss, head coach Phil Jackson, teammate Derek Fisher, and fellow Laker Legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who says Bryant was bigger than basketball.

“This statue may look like Kobe, but really, it’s what excellence looks like. What discipline looks like. What commitment looks like. 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,” Abdul Jabbar said. “We’re all here today to honor a man who represents not just extraordinary sports achievement, but also timeless values that inspire us all to try harder to be not just better, but our best.”

During her speech, Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, revealed that this would be the first of three statues honoring him, including another featuring him rocking his No. 24 jersey and a third of him alongside Gianna, who also died in the January 2020 helicopter crash.

But the first statue –which stands 19 feet tall and weighs 4,000 pounds– shows Bryant donning his No. 8 jersey as he points to the sky with his right hand while walking off the court when he dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors in January 2006.

At the base reads his full name and nickname, “Black Mamba,” a nod to the infamous triangle offense Phil Jackson enforced, and five championship trophies along the side.

A Bryant quote is also etched into the statue: “Leave the game better than you found it. And when it comes time for you to leave, leave a legend.”

Vanessa Bryant had a simple response for those who aren’t feeling the statue’s pose.

“For the record, Kobe picked the pose you’re about to see. So if anybody has any issue with it, tough sh-t,” she told the crowd.

See how social media reacted to the Kobe Bryant statue unveiling.