Every since Kobe Bryant’s tragic passing in Jan. 2020, fans have wondered when the Los Angeles Lakers would honor the franchise legend with a statue outside of Crypto.com Arena.
The long-awaited announcement finally came this past week when the Lakers said the statue unveiling will take place on Feb. 8, 2024, before the team’s home game against the Denver Nuggets. The date is very fitting considering it involves both of Kobe’s numbers 8 and 24 as well as his daughter Gianna’s No. 2.
One thing the Lakers have yet to announce though is what the statue will look like, and there surely is no shortage of choices. The Lakers have shown with their past statues such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal that they are willing to get creative. Bryant had a number of iconic poses throughout his 20-year Lakers career, whether it be his signature fadeaway jumper, standing on the scorer’s table with both arms out after beating the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals or walking off the court with one finger held up after dropping 81 points against the Toronto Raptors.
There certainly are other options as well, and the Lakers Nation staff made their choices in our latest roundtable:
Matthew Moreno (@Matthew__Moreno):
While there are several options and highlights to choose from, for me there is only one clear answer for how the Kobe Bryant statue should be designed: standing with his arms stretched out, celebrating with fans after the Lakers defeated the Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals.
We’ve all seen that picture of Kobe.
Yes, pointing to the sky while walking off the court after scoring 81 points is symbolic. So too is his patented fadeaway. But Kobe’s reaction after slaying the Celtics stands above the rest.
Beyond the sheer joy he had in the moment is career significance. We heard from Kobe himself how much beating the Celtics meant to him.
One design change or detail I would like to see incorporated is No. 8 being on the front of the jersey and No. 24 on the back.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH):
First and foremost, any statue that includes Gigi Bryant is the right choice. Any moment of Kobe and Gigi together whether sitting and laughing together or squaring off with that same Mamba stare would be amazing. But for the sake of this, I’ll stick to moments from Bryant’s Lakers career.
If I had to choose one it would be the image of him on top of the scorer’s table after defeating the Celtics in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. Kobe always valued winning over everything else and this championship was his most satisfying not only because it involved beating the Celtics, but it also was vindication over his most frustrating loss.
Kobe on the scorer’s table, arms outstretched in pure joy after that accomplishment simply represents him and what he meant to Lakers fans everywhere more than anything else.
Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane):
There are so many great moments that we have to choose from for Kobe’s statue, but I’m going with him celebrating with the L.A. crowd on the scorer’s table, arms spread out with a basketball in one hand. Context matters, as the moment happened when the Lakers defeated the hated Celtics in Game 7 to win their 16th NBA Championship.
Perhaps more importantly, the moment encapsulates Bryant’s connection with Los Angeles. It’s only appropriate that the statue that will grace L.A. will forever serve as a reminder of that special connection between a one-of-a-kind player and the city that was with him every step of the way.
Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand):
I see a lot of my colleagues are choosing the iconic photo of Kobe celebrating the 2010 Finals victory over the Celtics on the scorer’s table, and I think that would be a great choice.
For me though, holding one finger up while walking off the court after his 81-point performance is the right one.
That was arguably the greatest scoring performance in NBA history, definitely the greatest one I’ve ever seen. It was Kobe at the peak of his powers, willing the Lakers to a much-needed victory and then saluting the home crowd who gave him a thunderous ovation for what he just did.
I also think that pose would look great on a statue and similar to what others have said, I would put 8 on one side and 24 on the other.
Matthew Peralta (@_Matthew Peralta):
With the statue unveiling date being 2.8.24, I think the choice has to be of Kobe and Gigi together. The two were seen together at the arena on multiple occasions and what better way to keep their memories alive forever than with a statue depicting their close relationship.
Matthew Valento (@matthewvalento):
When Kobe retired and his final game came and went, as many fans did, I wondered what his statue would look like. While it is tempting to go with a pose portraying his signature post fadeaway, there is something else that comes to mind.
As a kid born in 2002, I was still growing into my love of basketball when the Mamba was in his prime. But, in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Celtics in L.A., the stakes didn’t get any higher. Bryant, who is known for his scoring, struggled offensively. However, he impacted the game in other ways, especially with his 15 rebounds. It truly showed his determination and willingness to do anything for his fifth championship while defeating their long-time rivals.
When the buzzer sounded and the Lakers scraped their way to a Finals victory, seeing Bryant expressing his excitement by jumping up on the scorer’s table to celebrate with the Staples Center crowd was a sight to see. Being an eight-year-old at the time and witnessing that moment is something I’ll never forget.