Los Angeles Lakers will be wearing their „Black Mamba“ jerseys during the game on Thursday against the Denver Nuggets (10 p.m. ET on TNT) to celebrate Kobe Bryant, who will be honored with a statue outside the Crypto.com Arena earlier in the day.
Bryant, who tragically passed away in a helicopter crash in 2020 along with his daughter Gianna, helped design the uniforms, featuring a snakeskin print and drop-shadow numbers as a nod to the uniforms the Lakers wore during his rookie season in 1996-97.
The jerseys, which also include a stylized „LA 24“ logo on the waistband and the numbers 8 and 24 on the shorts tabs, referencing the two numbers Bryant wore during his career, were originally unveiled as part of the Lakers‘ 2017-18 City Edition set.
They returned during the opening round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs, with the Lakers donning the all-black uniforms during their 135-115 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on August 24, also expressed as 8/24.
Los Angeles secured their record 17th NBA championship with a 4-2 series win over the Miami Heat, with every postseason game played amid the COVID-19 pandemic in a „bubble“ at Walt Disney World.
The jerseys, also worn in the second game of the Finals, prominently featured a white heart-shaped patch with Gianna’s number 2, who played for the Los Angeles Lady Mambas, the basketball team coached by her father at the Mamba Sports Academy.
As an 18-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion who played his entire 20-year career in Los Angeles, Bryant will join Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Magic Johnson as the seventh Laker to have a statue alongside Jerry West and Chick Hearn.