“It is a great day in L.A.,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti to the city council chamber full of Lakers fans. The city of Los Angeles announced August 24 to be “Kobe Bryant Day,” the date commemorating the two numbers that he wore during his career.
“That unbreakable spirit you demonstrated since you were 17 years old in this city makes it easy on this August 24th, to declare Kobe Bryant Day in the city of Los Angeles,” said Garcetti.
The presentation touched upon various aspects of Bryant’s career, his 33,463 career points, and the work he has done with the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation (KVBFF).
“I’ve been extremely fortunate to be here,” Bryant said. “To say that today was surreal would be a massive understatement.”
The presentation started with a video showing Bryant’s career from the 1996 NBA Draft to his 60-point performance during his final game.
Several members of the city council showed their gratitude for Bryant through remarks and anecdotes. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Attorney Mike Feuer, City Council President Herb Wesson, and Councilmember Jose Huizar stood beside Bryant and his family during the presentation.
They remarked on his efforts to battle against homelessness through collaborating with organizations like Step Up on Second and My Friend’s Place.
“What happened today was an amazing celebration,” Bryant said. “I hope that this legacy transcends beyond basketball.”
Wesson recalled winning a bet with a politician from Sacramento due to the Lakers beating the Sacramento Kings during the 2002 NBA Playoffs.
“If he won, I was supposed to wear a Kings warmup Jersey with a basketball and ring a cow bell,” Wesson said. “If I won, he was supposed to wear a Lakers jersey, ringing a cowbell and sing ‘I Love L.A.”
Fans cheered and exclaimed how Bryant was their hero and called him “G.O.A.T.”: the greatest of all time. They also serenaded him with the Happy Birthday song; Bryant’s 38th birthday was Tuesday.
“He’s been here his whole career, all 20 years. Not too many big players can say that,” said Bryan Quarker, 24, who has been a fan of Bryant since the late nineties. “He represents the city, you can’t think about the Lakers without thinking about Kobe.”
Francois Verin, who works at City Hall as a management analyst, had been a Lakers fan since the days Wilt Chamberlain played for the team.
“[The] moment I became a Kobe fan probably was when they won the first championship, him and Shaq,” Verin said.
Bryant was the 13th overall pick in the 1996 draft by the Charlotte Hornets, but was traded to the Lakers the same night. The Lakers were his favorite team growing up.