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“Kobe picked the pose you’re about to see,” said Vanessa Bryant at the unveiling of the statue honoring her late husband today, “so if anyone has any problems with it, tough sh*t.”
That pose, for those wondering, has the Lakers legend standing, right hand stretched upward, raising one his index finger in what could be seen as an “I’m No. 1 gesture.”
It may indeed be that. Bryant, everyone knows, did not lack for confidence in his own talents.
But it is also a snapshot from the end of the game against the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006. In that contest, Bryant scored 81 points, the second highest single game point total in NBA history. As Bryant walked off the court that night, he held up his index finger as much in acknowledgement of the cheering crowd as in celebration of himself.
Also in memory of that night, the team released a seven-minute video narrated by Lakers die-hard Denzel Washington and directed by frequent collaborator Antoine Fuqua. It also celebrates the night of Bryant’s 81-point feat.
In her speech, Vanessa Bryant said the statue would be one of three of her late husband outside the arena. There will be one of him wearing each of his numbers — 8 and 24 — and another of Kobe and his daughter Gianna. They and seven others were tragically killed in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020.
You can watch the statue being unveiled and the entirety of Vanessa Bryant’s speech below.