The Los Angeles Lakers will look to win their 17th NBA championship in Black Mamba.
The Lakers will wear their “Black Mamba” uniforms, styled in honor of the late Kobe Bryant, Friday in Game 5. The Lakers were expected to wear the alternate black uniforms in Games 2 and 7 of the NBA Finals, a team source confirmed to ESPN. But on Friday in Game 5, the Lakers can clinch their 17th NBA title, leading the Miami Heat 3-1 in the NBA Finals at best of seven.
The Lakers are 4-0 this postseason when they wear the black kits, designed by Nike in collaboration with Bryant. The Lakers and the city of Los Angeles mourned the deaths of Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in January.
“Mamba and Mambacita jerseys approved for Game 5,”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have often spoken of attempting to channel Bryant’s legendary “Mamba mentality” and relentless desire to win. This Lakers team dedicated the remainder of the season to Bryant, who played all 20 seasons of his career in purple and gold after his death.
James and Davis have tattoos in Bryant’s honor. The team sings “1-2-3 Mamba!” when chatter breaks.
Davis hit a winning hat-trick against the Denver Nuggets in the second game of the Western Conference Finals and said the “Black Mamba” uniforms worn by the Lakers for that game provided inspiration.
“Obviously, we represent him,” Davis said after the 105-103 win. “Especially with those shirts. It’s his shirt, the one he created, and every time we wear it, we want to win.”
The Lakers first wore the Bryant-inspired uniform on January 26, 2018, against Chicago Bulls – two years before Bryant’s death.
The alternate uniform is part of the “Laker Lore Series”, which included a Magic Johnson inspired jersey in 2018-19 and another one by Shaquille O’Neal in 2019-20.
The Lakers ‘Black Mamba uniform features a snakeskin print and shadows on the numbers, a flashback to a detail on Lakers’ kits when Bryant was a rookie in 1996-97.
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.