LOS ANGELES — A second LeBron James Lakers mural has been defaced by a vandal this month in Los Angeles.
The latest mural of James was of him looking up at Lakers legends Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain above the two historic venues the team has played at — Staples Center and The Great Western Forum.
Gustavo Zermeno, a lifelong Lakers fan who put up the mural, said its message was that James was coming to the Lakers with respect and understanding of the legends he is following. With the image of James looking up to former Lakers stars, Zermeno hoped the message of the art would keep vandals and haters from hitting it.
But someone poured white paint over the top of James’ image late Friday night. On Saturday morning, Zermeno returned to fix it, and he said about “40 to 50” Lakers fans stopped by and helped him. The artist said he did not know who defaced his art or why.
“I am surprised,” Zermeno told ESPN about his art being vandalized. “This is the most positive move for the Lakers in the past five or six years. It is really a surprise that people are upset about LeBron. I don’t understand it.”
“[The message of the mural was to] just show LeBron paying homage to not only past Lakers legends but the whole organization. Him showing up to the Lakers and knowing he has some big shoes to fill.”
Zermeno, with the help of five of his friends, spent five days and some 45 hours working on the mural near the intersection of Melrose and Fairfax. He has produced other Lakers murals, including another of James and ones of Bryant.
Earlier this month, local muralist Jonas Never produced artwork featuring James in a Lakers jersey with the message “King of LA” on a wall at the Baby Blues BBQ restaurant in Venice. The mural was first vandalized with someone spray-painting “We Don’t Want You” and “No King,” as well as “3-6,” an apparent reference to James’ record in the NBA Finals.
Never fixed it, and he took “of” out of the “King of LA” message. Still, the mural was defaced again with someone splattering yellow paint on it. Never decided to paint over the entire mural with white paint instead of spending more time trying to fix it.
“I thought I had learned a long time ago to never touch religion or politics. I guess it is never touch religion, politics or anyone against Kobe,” Never told ESPN, with a laugh.
Zermeno was thrilled to see Lakers fans stop by and help him Saturday.
“It is one of those things that we come together,” he said. “Lakers fans all together. We are not going to let the haters win.”
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