(Los Angeles) The Los Angeles Lakers revealed a statue bearing the likeness of their former star Kobe Bryant, who died a little over four years ago, and multiplied the tributes on the occasion of an evening dedicated to of the “Black Mamba”.
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 dozen 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 along with his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others in a helicopter crash on January 26 2020 near Los Angeles. He retired from sports in 2016.
” Passion ”
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 distributed N.8 flocked t-shirts to all supporters, and broadcast tribute videos to Bryant during each of the evening’s many downtimes.
“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, told AFP. .
“I met Kobe once, it was one of the happiest days of my life,” he says, pointing to a photo on his phone. I miss him a lot. I was moved by the videos broadcast this evening. »
” Model ”
Among his young heirs at the Lakers, fullback Austin Reaves describes the former star as “a 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.