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Lakers unveil first Kobe Bryant statue on 2.8.24

Purple, gold…and bronze. Mamba Mentality ran through ‘The House That Kobe Built’ and the threads of the Lakers throwback jerseys on 2.8.24.

Los Angeles Lakers Unveil First Kobe Bryant Statue On 2824
Lakers unveil first kobe bryant statue on 2 8 24

The last time the Lakers played the Nuggets in their special edition Black Mamba jerseys, Anthony Davis yelled “Kobe” from downtown as he sank a buzzer-beating three in the bubble to send his Lake Show to the 2020 NBA Finals.

This time around, wearing the snakeskins on the same night they honoured Hollywood’s finest, LA went down to Denver, as the Kobe Bryant statue went up.

Immortalized forever like the number 8 on his jersey in 4,000 pounds of bronze. The 19-foot statue points to Bean’s 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006. Joining Shaq, Magic, Kareem, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Chick Hearn in statuesque residence outside “the house that Kobe built”.

Not to mention two more Bryant statues to come, announced by Vanessa Bryant. One donning the second half of his career number 24, and the other with his Mambacita, daughter Gianna Bryant.

It doesn’t get much more powerful and poignant than that, as many Laker legends paid heartfelt tribute. From Pau Gasol to Shaquille O’Neal in the TNT studio just wishing he was there.

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It doesn’t get much more powerful and poignant than that, as many Laker legends paid heartfelt tribute. From Pau Gasol to Shaquille O’Neal in the TNT studio just wishing he was there.

“This statue may look like Kobe, but really it’s what excellence looks like,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also remarked at the unveiling. “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. We’re all here today to honour 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.”

Jeanie Buss added, “we will share what he meant to us. As we do so, we will motivate a new generation to emulate the Mamba Mentality.” Paying perfect tribute to a man who is already immortalized in so many moving murals around his city.

Now two of his jerseys retired to the rafters will be joined by a holy trinity of statues in beautiful bronze.

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“To the fans here in LA, this is a special city Kobe was so proud to represent,” Vanessa Bryant said in dear devotion. “You welcomed him with open arms and have been so important to him, our family, and his legacy.”

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

The words of the Mamba himself are engraved into the triangular base in tribute to the offence orchestrated by Phil Jackson and Tex Winter. There’s also a QR code on the statue, so fans can watch highlights from his historical point performance, second only to another Laker great, Wilt Chamberlain.

“He was unmatched,” Kobe’s class of ’96 backcourt brother, Derek Fisher, added. “A rare specimen that left opposing players in awe, teammates inspired. He didn’t just play the game. He defined it.”

As for the game itself, the Lakers lost for the seventh straight time to the same golden Nugget champion that knocked them out of the playoffs last year. Despite a late rally that saw everyone come up big, like Taurean Prince (13 points) off the bench. From AD (32 points with nine rebounds, three assists, four blocks, and three steals) to back-up Jaxson Hayes (five offensive boards in 14 minutes) who has the same bounce in his sneakers that he has in his hair.

Tying the game more times than their shoes, the Lakers looked good in their first game since the NBA trade deadline passed without them making a deal. No Zach LaVine. No Dejounte Murray. But that’s OK. Have you seen the way D’Angelo Russell has been balling lately? He was out of action on this occasion, which explains a lot, but the Lakers keeping him along with the midrange maestro Rui Hachimura is the right move.

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Rumour has it that if former Phoenix Sun Yuta Watanabe is brought out by the same Memphis Grizzlies the shooter started his career with, the Lakers would be interested in creating a downtown Japanese tandem in LA.

In the end, an eight-zip run and 114-106 final frame was all Jokic, Murray, Porter Jr., Gordon and company wrote on this Mamba memory day.

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