Former Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant is the latest player from the storied NBA franchise to have a statue erected at the team’s home base in Los Angeles.
Bryant, who died aged 41 in a helicopter crash alongside daughter Gianna and seven other victims in 2020, had long been earmarked for a statue at Crypto.com Arena.
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The shooting guard is the seventh Laker to get a statue, joining the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
There had been huge speculation over the Bryant pose that would be used for the image.
The five-time NBA champion has had some iconic poses over the years, leaping on the scoring table after winning the 2010 title and ripping his jersey to one side after a game-winner in 2006 among them.
In the end, the sculptor, Julie Rotblatt Amrany, chose a pose that Bryant himself had picked before his untimely death.
It shows Bryant walking from the court in a white Lakers jersey after his 81-point game against Toronto in 2006, the second highest total in NBA history.
Only Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962 tops that remarkable effort.
As is so often the case with these statue reveals, the response has been mixed.
Some have applauded the 5.8-metre likeness, praising the moment chosen and the detail in the image, including the bandages around his right finger and right knee.
Others queried the shape and look of his head and neck, while some also suggested it looks more like Michael Jordan, particularly the side-on angle.
“That statue does not look like him,” was one response to the unveiling.
“No issue with the pose. The sculpture of the face doesn’t feel right though,” was another.
“He may have picked the pose but definitely didn’t pick to be sculpted so bad … that statue was Bobe Kryant not Kobe Bryant,” added a third.
Over the years, statues of some famous athletes have been heavily ridiculed, including David Beckham, Lleyton Hewitt and most infamously Cristiano Ronaldo.
Kobe’s wife Vanessa, however, had the perfect response to anyone that has an issue with her late husband’s bronze likeness.
“For the record, Kobe picked the pose you’re about to see,” she said just before the unveiling on Friday (AEDT).
“So if anyone has any issues with it, tough s**t.”
Vanessa ended the line with a shrug and a half-smile as the room broke up with applause and laughter.
Rotblatt Amrany and her husband, Omri Amrany, have created a number of notable statues, including the sensational Michael Jordan effort outside the United Center in Chicago.
The date of the Bryant reveal was deliberate, falling on February 8, 2024 in the US, representing his two playing numbers, eight and 24, and the fact he died alongside one of his four daughters.
Anyone that has a major issue with the statue can also take a little heart or perhaps prepare for more fire.
Friday’s ceremony was the first of what will ultimately be three statues of the NBA great at the Lakers facility.