Right arms and index fingers raised to the sky, the sculpture of Kobe Bryant pays homage to the player's pose when he left the floor on January 22, 2006, after scoring 81 points against Toronto. A record evening and an offensive orgy in a good summary of the “Mamba mentality”, aggression and desire to win increased tenfold by the champion's disproportionate ego.
“This moment is not just for Kobe but for all of you who supported him for years,” said his widow Vanessa Bryant during a ceremony held under a large white tent in front of a few dozens of guests. Vanessa Bryant succeeded legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Phil Jackson, the former coach of Michael Jordan at the Chicago Bulls and then Kobe Bryant at the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant, five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star, died at the age of 41 with his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020 near Los Angeles. Angeles. He retired from sports in 2016.
The statue erected Thursday in front of the Crypto.com Arena, former Staples Center, will not remain alone for long since two other statues of “Kobe”, including one with his daughter Gianna, will be added in the future around the enclosure. Shortly after the ceremony, the Lakers lost to the defending champions, the Denver Nuggets (114-106).
Despite an excellent Anthony Davis (32 points, 9 rebounds) and the eternal LeBron James (25 points, 9 rebounds), the Angelenos did not manage to kill the match in the final minutes, superb, like the “Black Mamba". Opposite, Jamal Murray (29 points, 11 assists) and Nikola Jokic (24 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists) were more striking in the decisive moments. The franchise had distributed t-shirts flocked with the No. 8 to all the supporters, and broadcast tribute videos to Bryant during each of the numerous downtimes of the evening.
“Kobe is the very reason for my passion for the Lakers. I was born the same year as him and my son was born on his birthday, August 23, so we gave him Kobe as a middle name,” Juan Catalan, a 45-year-old Lakers fan, explained to AFP. . “I met Kobe once, it was one of the happiest days of my life,” he said, pointing to a photo on his phone. I miss him a lot. I was moved by the videos broadcast this evening.”
Among his young heirs at the Lakers, fullback Austin Reaves describes the former star as “a role model”. “I see what he means, not just to people but to the game, basketball.” A champion with recognized talent and work ethic, Kobe Bryant was accused of rape in 2003 by a hotel employee. The affair concluded without a trial, with a financial settlement and a public apology from the player, who had always maintained that the relationship had been consensual.
Elsewhere in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors confirmed their improvement on Thursday with a clear success in Indianapolis (131-109), with 42 points from Stephen Curry. The Cleveland Cavaliers won an 8th consecutive game by dominating Brooklyn (118-95). Luka Doncic stood out for Dallas with 39 points and 11 assists for a success over the New York Knicks (122-108), who had transferred Frenchman Evan Fournier to the Detroit Pistons during the day.