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Lakers to unveil Kobe Bryant statue in 2024

The bronze statue of Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant will be unveiled on Feb. 8, 2024 before the Lakers' home game against Denver.

Take a look back at the career of the iconic Lakers star and Hall of Famer, Kobe Bryant.

The Los Angeles Lakers will pay tribute to Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant with a statue in front of the arena where he played nearly all of his career.

The team announced the plan Thursday to honor Bryant, the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history and a beloved mainstay of the franchise for 20 seasons, with a statue that will be unveiled on Feb. 8, 2024 at Arena.

The announcement was made on Aug. 24 — known as “Kobe Day” since the eighth month and 24th day tie into Bryant’s jersey numbers with the Lakers (Nos. 8, 24).

Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, made the announcement that the statue will be unveiled at Star Plaza outside the stadium prior to the Lakers’ game that evening against the Denver Nuggets (10 p.m. ET, TNT). He is the sixth former Lakers player and seventh team employee to be honored with a statue at the arena, which has been the Lakers’ home since 1999.

“As you know, Kobe played his entire 20-year NBA career as a Los Angeles Laker,” said Vanessa Bryant in a video to fans posted at 8:24 this morning. “Since arriving in this city and joining the Lakers organization, he felt at home here, playing in the City of Angels. On behalf of the Lakers, my daughters and me, I am so honored that, right in the center of Los Angeles, in front of the place known as the house that Kobe built, we are going to unveil his statue so that his legacy can be celebrated forever.”

Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.

The 2/8/24 date of the unveiling is conspicuous: Kobe wore No. 8 and No. 24 during each half of his Lakers career, while Gianna wore No. 2 while playing youth basketball. The Bryants were flying together to a basketball competition with seven others when their helicopter crashed in fog in Calabasas, California.

Following his retirement, Kobe Bryant participated in the initial planning of the anticipated statue to come at Star Plaza, the team said. This is the first in a series of physical tributes to honor his legacy.

Bryant joins Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Chick Hearn as Lakers with statues outside the arena. Star Plaza also includes statues of the Los Angeles Kings’ Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Dustin Brown and announcer Bob Miller, along with champion boxer Oscar De La Hoya.

The statue was created by renowned sculptor Julie Rotblatt Amrany of the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt Amrany.

“Kobe Bryant was one of the most extraordinary athletes of all time, and one of the most iconic individuals in the history of Los Angeles,” Jeanie Buss, Los Angeles Lakers governor, said in a statement Thursday. “There is no better place for Kobe to be honored with a statue than here, at the center of our city, where everyone can celebrate him and be inspired by his incredible achievements.”

The Feb. 8 ceremony will take place outside the arena. Details will be released in the coming months.

“Kobe’s transcendent spirit is always and forever in our hearts — inspiring us every day,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement Thursday. “And now, with the unveiling of this powerful and beautiful statue, he will have a physical presence, too. A place on the hallowed ground Kobe created, where we can all gather and pay honor to a mighty and great man.”

Bryant, an 18-time NBA All-Star, retired as the first player in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons with a single franchise. Known for his “Mamba Mentality,” he helped guide the Lakers to five NBA titles (2000, ’01, ’02, ’09, ’10) and earned Finals MVP honors twice (2009, ’10). Voted the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2008, Bryant earned All-NBA honors 15 times, including 11 First Team selections, and was named to 12 All-Defensive Teams throughout his career, including nine All-Defensive First Team honors.

The Hall-of-Famer and two-time Olympic gold medalist stands as the Lakers’ all-time leader in regular season games played (1,346), points (33,643), 3-pointers made (1,827), steals (1,944) and free throws made (8,378), while owning franchise playoff records for games played (220), points (5,640), 3-pointers made (292) and free throws made (1,320).

A two-time scoring champion, Bryant scored a career-high and franchise-best 81 points on Jan. 22, 2006 vs. the Toronto Raptors. The Lakers retired Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys on Dec. 18, 2017.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.