The Los Angeles Lakers have the most iconic logo in the league. The simple forum blue lettering (or purple, depending on your mileage) over the gold basketball, surrounded by 16 stars. With those colors, and the incredible talent that has graced this franchise, it’s no wonder that the Lakers have some of the most beautiful uniforms in NBA history.
That is what makes it so disappointing when the Lakers take their historic iconography and somehow turn it into a jersey that isn’t just below-average, but downright ugly. Alas, that was the case with the 2018-19 City Edition uniforms, henceforth referred to as the Purple Pajamas.
Far be it for me to complain about the Lakers incorporating more purple into their overall look; I love the traditional home/road split, and the Lakers end up wearing gold way too often because it contrasts with essentially other color in the league. But if you’re going to make a purple jersey, let the purple shine. It’s a royal color, for crying out loud.
Instead, the Magic Johnson-inspired jerseys — which should have been the first alarm bell, considering how well his front office tenure went — do everything possible to obscure the purple backdrop. This was also a crime committed by the 2018-19 Statement jerseys, which added an unnecessary black strip down the side. The jerseys were widely panned.
The first sin of the Purple Pajamas is the excessive lettering on the front. Put “Lakers” on the front or put “Los Angeles”. There is no need for both. It’s busy, and the “Los Angeles” is barely legible on television. And for some reason, that text is in black instead of gold, which distorts the aesthetic further.
In case the logo text on the front wasn’t too small for you, the Lakers took it one step further with the pseudo-stripes up and down the jersey. Each “stripe” has the words “3x5xSHOWTIME” in succession, an homage to Johnson’s three MVP awards (or Finals MVPs) and five championships. This is a wonderful sentiment, but the words are literally impossible to read on the uniform, and make the jersey look like it’s fraying because the black “stripes” aren’t solid. The Orlando Magic figured out a way to make pinstripes look cool in the 1990s; the Lakers were unable to crack the code.
And lest we forget, the jerseys look like pajamas. A fitting metaphor for a team that was often disinterested and asleep at the wheel for much of the season.
The 2018-19 City Edition jerseys were likely always going to be a letdown after the sleek Black Mamba uniforms from the year before. But there’s worse, and then there’s plain awful. Let’s just try to forget these jerseys ever happened.