Kobe Bryant honored in Hollywood
LOS ANGELES -- Hollywood stars have long been fixtures at Lakers games and now a Laker is a fixture in Hollywood. Kobe Bryant became the first athlete to have his hands and feet imprinted at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Saturday.
Jimmy Kimmel hosted the rare indoor ceremony due to inclement weather and was joined by George Lopez, Penny Marshall and Jeannie Buss in presenting Bryant.
"This is a tremendous honor," Bryant said. "I feel extremely honored to be able to do this. It's never something I actually thought about when I was watching movies. I never thought my hand and foot prints would be sitting right here at Grauman's Chinese Theatre."
Bryant looked at his wife, Vanessa, and his two daughters, Natalia and Gianna, as he signed his name on a block of cement set up on a stage in front of the theater. He then placed his hands and feet just below it and finished his mark on Hollywood by dating it and writing "#24."
"I can't believe I've been in L.A. 15 years," Bryant said. "It went by so fast. I can remember like it was yesterday being 17 years old and coming to L.A. and not knowing the freeways; the 405, the 101. I had no idea what was going on. I feel like I've grown up in this city. We've had a lot of ups and downs but here we are with five championships and plenty more to go."
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Lakers coach Phil Jackson also attended the ceremony, taking a picture with Bryant in front of his hand and foot prints while the capacity crowd inside the theater chanted "One more year!" in reference to this being Jackson's last season as coach of the Lakers.
Kimmel had fun with Bryant being the first athlete being immortalized at the theater despite never having a television or film credit.
"It's fitting that Kobe Bryant would have a place in Grauman's Chinese Theatre because although he's not an actor nor does he have any experience in theatrical arts he is -- wait, why is this fitting?" Kimmel said. "I'm not sure exactly. The closest Kobe has ever come to acting is pretending he's going to pass to Luke Walton."
Before introducing Bryant, Kimmel had a theory for why Bryant has never acted.
"I think this is where Kobe saw the movie 'Kazaam' and decided basketball players should never act; they should just play basketball," Kimmel said. "It is remarkable to be alongside so many legendary actors, especially considering his biggest acting credit was a role on 'Moesha.' It gives you an idea of what an impact this man has made. This is the highest honor you could bestow on an athlete short of winning a Kardashian's hand in marriage."
Bryant did a take a turn at acting in a recently released short film, "The Black Mamba," directed by Robert Rodriguez in conjunction with Nike. The film also has cameo appearances by Bruce Willis, Kanye West and Danny Trejo. Bryant, however, said he doesn't anticipate parlaying that into an acting career after he retires from basketball.
"No," Bryant said. "But I could see my vision behind the camera as a director."
Arash Markazi is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.