Earlier this season the Los Angeles Lakers honored Kobe Bryant by raising both his Nos. 8 and 24 jerseys in the Staples Center rafters. The ceremony was attended by some of the greatest stars to ever play in the NBA, and touching words were spoken by the likes of Magic Johnson and Jeanie Buss.
A Laker player having their jersey raised is a pretty exclusive club, but even more exclusive is those who who have a statue outside of the building. Currently, the only Lakers to have them are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal, along with legendary broadcaster Chick Hearn.
Many expect Kobe to eventually join that group and Jeanie all but confirmed that he will one day do so as she guest hosted the Mason and Ireland show on ESPN L.A. Radio. Buss also gave a timeline as to when to expect that moment:
“Our tradition is to retire a jersey when a player is entered into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Now, to be considered for the Hall of Fame, you have to be retired for five years. Obviously, we didn’t stick with that rule, because when Magic Johnson retired, we immediately retired his jersey. Shaq asked to have his jersey retired while my dad was still alive because he wanted my dad to know he wanted to retire a Laker. So we made an exception there. We obviously made an exception for Kobe two years after he retired, because we know he’s going into the Hall of Fame. So what we did with Shaq, when he went into the Basketball Hall of Fame, that’s when we unveiled his statue. So I guess we can assume that at some point Kobe will be considered for the Basketball Hall of Fame, and we’ll figure it out.”
As it currently stands, Bryant is still three years away from being Hall-of-Fame eligible. So, fans should start preparing in 2021 for Kobe to be bronzed outside of Staples Center. The bigger question now will be what pose will be chosen for his statue.
There are plenty of legendary ones to choose from, such as his celebration after hitting the game winner in the playoffs against the Phoenix Suns in 2006, walking off the court after his 81 point performance, or standing on the scorer’s table after defeating the Boston Celtics to win his fifth championship in 2010.
Not to mention the number of amazing dunks he threw down over the course of his career. Whatever is ultimately chosen, Buss will make sure the Lakers go all out to honor Kobe once this time comes, as he will join the great fraternity of legends to be forever immortalized outside of the arena that he has more memories in than anyone.
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