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Lakers unveil first of three statues commemorating the late Kobe Bryant

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers unveiled a statue on Feb. 8, 2024. Honoring NBA legend Kobe Bryant who played for the franchise for 20 years, spanning from 1996 to 2016.

Kobe Bryant, known as one of the greatest basketball players of all time and an inspiration to many, will now watch over fans at the arena forever. The Los Angeles Lakers unveiled a statue honoring the late Hall of Fame player, Feb. 9. The statue stands as the largest of the seven statues displayed outside the arena in downtown Los Angeles.  

Although the statue’s formation was never in doubt, many Laker fans were still in awe of the realization of Bryant being immortalized in bronze. Lifelong Lakers fan Adrian Stevens, who has been a fan since 2001, was moved by the enshrinement. 

 “I think if anybody should have a statue up there, I think it’s him. I think he exemplifies what it is to be a Laker,” Stevens said. 

Bryant won five championships with the Lakers, which is tied for the most in franchise history. He is also the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer and fourth in league history, scoring over 33 thousand points in his career. Bryant was a prolific scorer and even still, basketball fans like Stevens saw more than just scoring. 

“I think he was a perfect person to take on that role in Hollywood, and he was somebody that gave himself completely to the franchise, very loyal, he was always a teacher to others, whether it was leading by example or turning into the leader that he had to be to, to win those championships, you know, in the later years,” Stevens said.  

Stevens isn’t the only one who felt emotional once the statue was unveiled. 

“For me, I think it represents the appreciation for Kobe and what he did for the Lakers and the community,” said Lakers fan Abraham Perez. “It’s different being able to see it, especially for the fans that saw him play from a young age.”  

While some fans are glorifying the physical memory of Bryant, the unveiling has not gone without its share of drama. Some have criticized the design of the statue, particularly the pose, among others, as a better pose could have been chosen for it. 

“I think a majority of them are probably just Kobe haters and just want to pick on the little things of what’s wrong with the statue,” said Perez in response to the critics. “I think the pose they picked was perfect. What else represents Kobe more than his scoring? He was a killer offensively.”  

Stevens says there will always be a select few who will always have a complaint.  

“I think people complain about everything. If you get on different apps or social media, whatever the case when it comes to sports, there’s not one post that there’s always somebody negative,” said Stevens. 

The statue is a reminder of the greatness that happened back when the Arena was known as the Staples Center. The days when Bryant was throwing lobs to Shaq, or the dagger fadeaway jump shots many teams had nightmares about are memories that, to this day, inspire the current and next generation of NBA fans and players.  

“You see it today, you know how much of an impact he’s made on the game and the players of today and the guys that he’ll continue to impact forever,” Stevens said, referring to Bryant’s impact on current players like Jason Tatum, who plays for the Lakers hated rival Boston Celtics. 

Tatum now wears Bryant’s Lakers gear whenever he suits up for a game.  

No matter what critics say about the statue, it now has its place outside of Arena for everybody to see.  

As the statue is meant to inspire younger generations as well, Lakers owner and one of Bryant’s most personal friends and admirers Jeanie Buss says, “We will share what he meant to us, and, as we do so, we will motivate a new generation to emulate the ‘Mamba Mentality.’” 

Jorge Guajardo is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]. 

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About the Contributor
Jorge Guajardo
Jorge Guajardo, Staff Reporter
Jorge Ian Guajardo, is 30 years old and born and raised in El Paso. He is majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in English rhetoric. He is a contributor at The Prospector looking to lay the foundation for a long and successful career in journalism once he graduates.
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