The Los Angeles Lakers have unveiled a statue in tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
Five-time NBA champion Bryant died aged 41 in a helicopter crash, alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, in 2020.
His bronze statue, standing at 19ft and weighing 4,000lb, is situated outside the Lakers’ home, the Crypto.com Arena.
It shows Bryant, who played for the Lakers his entire career, in his famous number eight jersey.
“This statue may look like Kobe, but really, it’s what excellence looks like,” said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was joined at the unveiling by fellow Lakers legends Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Derek Fisher.
Former head coach Phil Jackson and Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, were also in attendance.
“As I see today’s current generation of star players follow in Kobe’s footsteps with huge scoring games, I know he would take pride in knowing that he is still pouring inspiration into the game that was so special to him,” Vanessa Bryant said.
“I leave you with one of my husband’s amazing quotes,” she added. “‘Leave the game better than you found it and when it comes time for you to leave, leave a legend.’ And that he did.”
The statue is the first of three that will honour Bryant, with another set to feature him in his number 24 jersey, while the third will depict Bryant and Gianna.
Lakers pay tribute to Bryant in defeat by Denver
After Thursday’s unveiling, the Lakers wore their ‘Black Mamba’ jerseys, which were co-designed by Bryant and first worn in 2018, during their 114-106 defeat by the Denver Nuggets.
Jamal Murray scored 29 points and made a game-high 11 assists with seven rebounds to spur the Nuggets, the defending NBA champions, to their seventh successive win over the Lakers.
Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 32 points, while LeBron James added 25.
Elsewhere, Stephen Curry scored 42 points as his Golden State Warriors beat the Indiana Pacers 131-109.
Curry landed 11 of 16 three-point shots, setting a new NBA record of 13 career games with 11 or more baskets from beyond the arc.
The Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 129-105, while the Detroit Pistons needed overtime to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 128-122.
Luka Doncic scored 39 points as the Dallas Mavericks held off a late charge from the New York Knicks to win 122-108, while there were also victories for the Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, and Phoenix Suns.