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What Lakers legends have to say about the unveiling of Kobe Bryant’s statue

Lakers guards Derek Fisher and Finals MVP Kobe Bryant hold the trophies as they celebrate winning the 2010 NBA title.
Lakers guards Derek Fisher and Finals MVP Kobe Bryant celebrate winning the 2010 NBA title after a Game 7 defeat of the Boston Celtics.
(Getty Images)
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NBA reporter Broderick Turner asked various Lakers luminaries about their thoughts on the late Kobe Bryant having a statue placed outside Crypto.com Arena.

Here’s what they had to say:

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Derek Fisher

Fisher won five NBA championships with Kobe Bryant. Fisher, now the head basketball coach at Crespi High, and Bryant came to the Lakers the same year, in 1996.

Derek Fisher leaps onto the back of teammate Kobe Bryant after he made a game-winning, last-second shot against the Heat.
Derek Fisher leaps onto the back of teammate Kobe Bryant after he made a game-winning, last-second shot against the Heat on Dec. 4, 2009.
(Gina Ferazzi / Angeles Times)

“From my lens, I was a guy that had just finished playing four years of college basketball. So, it was not within my scope or belief that a kid coming straight out of high school could make the transition soon enough to become one of the all-time greats. So, that’s kind of how it all started. I think that’s what allowed our relationship to obviously come what it became, because I didn’t place the type of legacy defining expectations on Kob that he had for himself. It took me a while to learn that, ‘Yeah, he was capable of it,’ but that was what he really sought for himself too. Like, I didn’t pick up on that really our first year together.

“For me, it was Game 4 of the NBA Finals in Indianapolis (in 2000) when he hit the two shots late in overtime. Shaq had fouled out. Like, the calm and the confidence he had in himself in that moment, when it wasn’t him trying to show-out and show everybody what I can do, it was him stepping up to meet the moment and he had the stage for the first time at that level for everyone to see, like ‘I’ve arrived.’ And I thought those moments in overtime in Indianapolis, for me it took it from what I see everyday in relationships that we’re developing. … He grew up watching Magic and idolizing Magic and then Michael in the ‘90s and other guys, like, he had become one of those guys in that moment. It was big-time. That was after the ankle injury and not playing in Game 3.

“If he was here to give his speech, I think he would definitely find a way to efficiently say what he was always about. He went from a guy that seems to be at least driven only by self and doing for himself. By the time his career culminated and we lost him four years ago, I think if he were present, he would efficiently find a way to speak to how really all of our legacies are defined by how much greatness we have inspired in other people. What have we done to improve the world, improve the lives of other people? What have you done today to help support girls and women in sports and in business? What have you done to today for someone who has worked 20 years in one profession and was forced, whether by Father Time or whatever, and moved on to other walks of life and win Oscars and Emmys and other things that he was achieving? He was a multilayered human being, even though we all remember his greatness as a basketball player. I think he would efficiently find a way to speak to how important it is to dream, to have a vision, to basically make a plan, believe in that plan, execute the plan and inspire others and do it your way, kind of Frank Sinatra-ish kind of, and inspire other people. That was a gift he developed over time.”

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Ron Harper

Harper won two NBA championships with Kobe Bryant, in 2000 and 2001. Harper played with Michael Jordan , winning three championships. Bryant constantly asked Harper what Jordan was like to play with and train with.

“When I first got there, I was like, ‘Damn, he’s just like MJ.’ He competed in every drill every day. He had a lot of MJ similarities in him, for sure. I was like he just got to hone it in a little bit. He got to become a better teammate. I didn’t really appreciate the way he used to talk to his teammates. But after me and him got enough time to hang out and know each other, he kind of changed his ways. He’d say, ‘I heard MJ used to talk to you guys like that.’ I said, ‘First of all, ain’t nobody talking to me like that. I’m a grown-ass man.’ I told him, ‘You got to understand Kob, you going to be around these guys for six to eight months, man. You want them to be on your team, right?’ I said, ‘you got to give them some more respect.’ He understood.

Lakers guards Kobe Bryant, left, and Ron Harper discuss strategy during a break in play.
Lakers guards Kobe Bryant, left, and Ron Harper discuss strategy during a break in play against the SuperSonics.
(Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“He was a great player. He used to ask me all the time, ‘Why are you the first guy here everyday in the gym?’ I said because, ‘I like to train before anybody else comes in. That started with MJ, Scottie (Pippen) and me in Chicago at 6:45 a.m.’ So, he started training like at 4 a.m. He was in the gym shooting. While other players were going out after the basketball game, he was going back to the hotel to watch game film, eat, rest and be ready to train at 4 a.m. That was his thing. Then he’d come back at 5 p.m. to train some more. That was his thing. He said, ‘If I want to be one of the best of all time, I got to put this time in.’ That’s who he was. He used to say, ‘Why should I pass the ball to a guy that don’t come in and put the time in like I do?’ I said, ‘That’s a pretty good point.’

“I’m proud of him that Kobe got his statue out there. That’s my guy.”

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Lamar Odom

Odom won two NBA championships with Kobe Bryant and expresses his joy for the statue being displayed in his honor at Crypto.com Arena.

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“I’m not surprised. I wonder how long it would have taken if he was here. Would he be getting it this quick? Probably so. Of course we all wish he was here to share it with him. It’s a big deal. It puts him right there. He’s one of the best Lakers, if not the best Laker. It depends on what you like and what generation you like. A tremendous accomplishment to add to his legacy.

The Lakers unveiled the statue of the late Kobe Bryant on Thursday outside Crypto.com Arena. Here’s the L.A. Times coverage of the event.

Feb. 8, 2024

“If I was making the statue, I would make it half Caesar (haircut), half Afro Kobe, because both of those players were great but they played differently. Both were champions.

“I don’t think anybody should be surprised that he has a statue. I just wish he was here to see it, as we all do. So, I think it’s going to be a somber moment. It’s going to be joyous. I’m just trying to put myself there now and how I would feel.

“As soon as Magic’s statue went up and then Shaq’s went up, you knew Kobe was getting one. I’m anxious to see what route did they go. Did they add Gianna to it or not? I can see a statue with those two maybe holding hands, with a basketball. Who knows?”

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Lakers teammates (from right) Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Luke Walton congratulate Shannon Brown after scored.
Lakers teammates (from right) Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Luke Walton congratulate Shannon Brown after he made a key basket against the Nuggets in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
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