Since 2017 — the year that Nike became the official jersey sponsor of the NBA — the Los Angeles Lakers have designed their City Edition jerseys with the help of a few stars from their team’s past, of which they have no shortage of. However, the most popular jersey of their Lakers’ Lore Series was the first one they released, which was designed by Kobe Bryant.
The jerseys, now lovingly referred to as the “Black Mamba jerseys,” were black and gold with shorts to match and had a snakeskin print as a nod to the snake Bryant’s moniker was inspired by. To this day, they’re a fan-favorite.
Last week, it was revealed that Nike was going to rerelease the Black Mamba jerseys for sale for Mamba Day to the delight of Lakers fans everywhere, but the fans aren’t going to be the only people wearing them this season. According to a report from Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers will bring back the Black Mamba jerseys if they make it past the first round of the NBA playoffs:
Sources: If Lakers advance past 1st round of playoffs over Portland, they plan to wear the Black Mamba jersey in honor of Kobe Bryant in following rounds. Jersey features a snakeskin print on the outside. Bryant, daughter Gianna and 7 others died in a helicopter crash in January.— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) August 17, 2020
The jerseys won’t look different, but they’re sure to invoke a different emotion now that Bryant has passed. They’ll also have the commemorative Kobe Bryant patch that the Lakers added to all of their jerseys shortly after Bryant died in January.
In the 20 years Bryant played with the Lakers, he helped bring them five championships, most recently in 2010, when he won his second consecutive Finals MVP. Even the years he didn’t win a championship were commendable — like in 2013, when he willed the Lakers to the playoffs despite all of the problems in the locker room.
Seven years later, the Lakers are finally back in the postseason, and they have an opportunity to bring another championship to Los Angeles. Hopefully, they can do it while wearing Bryant’s jersey. Mamba forever.