Oscar De La Hoya was honored with a statue at the Staples Center in Los Angeles over 10 years ago, but the former professional boxer is petitioning for the statue to be removed and replaced with one depicting the late Kobe Bryant instead.
"No doubt," De La Hoya told Real 92.3 LA when asked if he thinks that Bryant's should be the next statue to go up. "I actually, no disrespect to anybody, I actually called Dan Beckerman, who's the head of AEG, the CEO of the Staples Center and L.A. Live, I called him that night and I told him 'Dan, dude, take my statue down and put Kobe's there, or do something, you know?' You know what I'm saying? It's the least I can do."
"We have to honor Kobe forever. We can't forget. Kobe did so much for LA," De La Hoya continued, recalling a concert that Bryant had attended with his wife, Vanessa. "I will never forget the humility that he always shows," De La Hoya said. "Every time I met him, every time we talked, he's just humble."
The show's host told De La Hoya that he was "so glad" the boxer had "made the call" about the statue. "Throw me in the back somewhere," De La Hoya joked. "I'll take it home."
De La Hoya, a 10-time champion and an Olympic gold medalist who grew up in Los Angeles, was honored with a 14-foot bronze statue of his likeness at the Staples Center in 2008 "in acknowledgement of his role as being one of the City's most influential sports figures," the arena shared at the time. The boxer's statue was put on display at the Staples Center Walk of Fame and joined those of Los Angeles Laker legend Magic Johnson and former Los Angeles Kings star Wayne Gretzky.
Since then, statues have been added of former Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal and Jerry West, former Lakers announcer Chick Hearn, former Kings player Luc Robitaille and former Kings broadcaster Bob Miller. In 2018, Lakers controlling owner and president Jeanie Buss said Bryant's statue would be revealed likely around the time he is inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.
"To be considered for the Hall of Fame, you have to be retired for five years," Buss told ESPN Los Angeles, via KOST 103.5. "Obviously, we didn't stick with that rule, because when Magic Johnson retired, we immediately retired his jersey. Shaq asked to have his jersey retired while my dad was still alive because he wanted my dad to know he wanted to retire a Laker. So we made an exception there. We obviously made an exception for Kobe two years after he retired, because we know he's going into the Hall of Fame. So what we did with Shaq, when he went into the Basketball Hall of Fame, that's when we unveiled his statue. So I guess we can assume that at some point Kobe will be considered for the Basketball Hall of Fame, and we'll figure it out."0comments
Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016. A spokesperson for the NBA Hall of Fame has confirmed that Bryant will be inducted as part of the Class of 2020 on Aug. 29, and his statue's unveiling will also likely be moved up.
Photo Credit: Getty / Allen Berezovsky