Monday evening, the Los Angeles Lakers will continue a playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers. This matchup takes place on Kobe Bryant Day, and the late NBA icon's team will wear special jerseys honoring him. The Lakers will head to the court in the special Black Mamba alternate jerseys.
First designed by Bryant himself, the City Edition uniforms first debuted during the 2017-18 season. However, they will make a return on Monday in time for the game against the Blazers. The Lakers previously teased that they would wear the special jerseys if they defeated the Trail Blazers and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. There were some initial concerns about color issues due to the Trail Blazers also using a considerable amount of black in their jerseys. However, the Lakers are bringing the alternate looks out early to honor Kobe Bryant Day.
The design of the jerseys also features a black snakeskin design, which references Bryant's Black Mamba nickname. There is also 3-D style lettering. The jerseys feature 16 stars on the side panels to represent the number of championships in franchise history.
There is a slight change from Bryant's original design as the Lakers have added a white heart with No. 2 in black text. The addition is a tribute to Bryant's daughter Gianna, who also died in the Jan. 26 helicopter crash. The team has worn "KB" patches on their jerseys to honor Bryant during the season. They also held a tribute to both Bryant and Gianna before their first game following the helicopter crash. That game was also against the Trail Blazers.
While head coach Frank Vogel previously shied away from confirming any tributes, he did later reveal that the Black Mamba jerseys would return. "This day and tomorrow, where we're going to wear the uniforms, brings back a lot of the emotions of what happened," Vogel said after Sunday's practice. "We're all still really sad about his loss, and Gigi's loss."
When the fans saw the news, they reacted in two very different ways. Some expressed excitement about the Lakers honoring Bryant during a critical playoff game. Others, however, expressed irritation that "bots" had purchased all of the jerseys the moment they went on sale. The fans said that they wanted to rep Bryant and the Black Mamba jerseys every day, but they did not want to spend nearly $1,000 on eBay.