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Plenty of people on hand to view Kobe Bryant's handprint and footprint ceremony

February 19, 2011 |  9:11 pm

Kobe_300 Kobe Bryant joined an elite class of stars on Saturday, but they weren’t NBA players in town for All-Star weekend.

As part of the weekend’s around-the-clock festivities, Bryant became the first athlete to receive a handprint and footprint ceremony at the legendary Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Fans swarmed Hollywood Boulevard to catch a glimpse of the Lakers star, with some lining up as early as 6 a.m. A couple hundred were allowed into the theater for the half-hour ceremony, which was moved inside because of rain.

After joking that he was actually at the theater for a showing of “Gnomeo and Juliet,” host Jimmy Kimmel wondered aloud why Kobe was being given an honor usually bestowed upon great actors.

“The closest Kobe’s come to acting is pretending he’s going to pass the ball to Luke Walton,” Kimmel said.

Next, he lauded Bryant’s charity work: “Just last week, he gave the Cleveland Cavaliers a reason not to kill themselves.”

After short speeches by Bryant’s friends, including Jeanie Buss and George Lopez –- who said he was re-christening the Lakers star “Carne Asada Bryant,” Kobe took to the podium to raucous cheers of “MVP.”

“It’s an honor. I love being in L.A., I love the Lakers and more championships are coming,” he said in his brief comments to the crowd.

Bryant was then led to a block of wet cement and knelt on a raised red velvet cushion to scrawl his name. He placed his hands and then his Nike-clad feet into the cement while grinning for cameras and flashing the peace sign.

After the ceremony, Bryant posed for photos with his wife, Vanessa, and their two daughters; Lakers Coach Phil Jackson; and other VIP audience members.

The celebration continues Saturday night with a star-studded party at Hollywood’s Boulevard 3 nightclub.

--Andrea Chang

Photo: Lakers All-Star Kobe Bryant signs the slab of cement that houses his footprints and handprints during a ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Saturday night in Hollywood. Credit: David Livingston / Getty Images