Lakers switch to ‘Black Mamba’ unis for Game 5


The Los Angeles Lakers will try to win their 17th world championship in Black Mamba fashion.

The Lakers will wear their special “Black Mamba” uniforms which are styled in honor of the late Kobe Bryant. The Lakers were slated to wear the black alternative 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 as they lead the Miami Heat 3-1 in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

The Lakers are 4-0 this postseason when wearing the black uniforms, designed by Nike in collaboration with Bryant. The Lakers and the city of Los Angeles grieved and endured the death 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,” Vanessa Bryant wrote in an Instagram story Wednesday night. “Let’s go @lakers.”

Lakers coach Frank Vogel, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have spoken often about trying to channel Bryant’s legendary “Mamba mentality” and relentless desire to win. This Lakers team dedicated the rest of the season to Bryant, who played all 20 seasons of his career in the purple and gold, after his death.

James and Davis got tattoos in honor of Bryant. And the team chants “1-2-3 Mamba!” when breaking huddles.

Davis hit a game-winning buzzer-beating 3-pointer in Game 2 against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals and said the “Black Mamba” uniforms worn by the Lakers during that game provided inspiration.

“Obviously, we’re representing him,” Davis said after that 105-103 win. “Especially in those jerseys. It’s his jersey, one he created, and any time we put it on, we want to win.”

The Lakers first wore the Bryant-inspired uniform on Jan. 26, 2018, against the Chicago Bulls — two years to the day before Bryant’s death.

The alternate uniform is part of the “Laker Lore Series,” which included jerseys inspired by Magic Johnson in 2018-19 and another by Shaquille O’Neal in 2019-20.

The Lakers’ Black Mamba uniform features a snakeskin print and drop shadows on the numbers, a flashback to a detail from the Lakers uniforms when Bryant was a rookie in 1996-97.

ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.

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