The Los Angeles Lakers have one of the most classic color combinations in the league, and one that has been almost totally unchanged from the “Showtime” era of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the modern days of Kobe Bryant.
That iconicness is what made people so excited when Nike finally re-debuted the team’s traditional purple duds that were bizarrely absent at the start of the season. But it also has often meant that the Lakers have been hesitant to tinker with their nearly-perfect look very often over the years.
Until now, at least. Earlier this season there were rumors of a Bryant-inspired, snakeskin-looking jersey to come at some point, and Nike has finally debuted it. With the help of Bryant himself, the apparel giant created a Black Mamba-twist on the Lakers’ look, complete with snakeskin patterning, an ode to their 16 titles, and Bryant’s numbers stitched in on the shorts.
Meet the newest addition to the Lakers uniform lineup.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 27, 2017
Bryant spoke to Zach Lowe of ESPN about the inspiration behind the creation of the newest kit, describing it as only he could:
Nike considered a slate gray look. Some black mambas actually have grayish skin; they get the “black” in their name from the color of the inside of their mouths — the last thing a victim sees before the mamba strikes. Had they gone with slate, the designers would have mimicked this effect by making the inside of the jerseys black, Montoya says.
Bryant doesn’t mind that the snakeskin print — the jersey’s defining feature — doesn’t exactly pop.
“Black added a level of mystery,” Bryant says. “You watch athletes run up and down the floor, but you don’t know what is inside of them. And that’s what the black mamba stands for — what is inside of you. It doesn’t stand just for me. It stands for an attitude that should be inside of you when you put the Laker jersey on. You should play with a killer approach.”
As a matter of taste, Bryant also defaults to clean and basic. “I like simple,” Bryant says. “Nothing busy. I like things that convey a message instantaneously.”
The Lakers do have one of the most perfect looks in all of professional sports, so it makes sense they wouldn’t want to mess with it. But the team has also worn black a decent amount as part of its “Hollywood Nights” uniforms over the last several years, and this is an update that gives those colors actual ties back to the franchise’s illustrious history.
The Lakers’ City uniforms are considered part of the “Lore Series,” which till tie back to famous figures in the franchise’s history.
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