Kobe’s Legacy Looms Large – Lakers Look to Clinch in Black Mamba Jerseys

FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) celebrates with teammate Anthony Davis (3) after an NBA conference final playoff basketball game against the Denver Nuggets in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Lakers won 105-103. The jerseys will be hanging in their lockers when the Los Angeles Lakers arrive for Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Friday night, Oct. 2. Black jerseys, trimmed in gold, a snakeskin print on the exterior to make it further unique. They are the Black Mamba jerseys. Designed by Kobe Bryant — and now worn for Kobe Bryant. “We never want to lose in these jerseys,” Lakers forward Anthony Davis said. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

The Los Angeles Lakers look unbeatable in the NBA Finals with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Adding the spirit of Kobe Bryant starts the trophy engraving.

The Lakers will wear their “Black Mamba” jerseys, designed by Nike and Bryant in 2017, when they have a chance to close out the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat in Game 5. The initial plans were to wear the black snakeskin jerseys for Game 7, but the Lakers no longer plan on a Game 7 with a 3-1 lead.

They are 4-0 in the playoffs when wearing the jerseys that coat them in “Mamba mentality.” When Davis made a game-winning shot in the Western Conference Finals, he screamed “Kobe!” while wearing the Black Mamba jersey.

“It’s always special to represent someone that meant so much, not only to the game but obviously to the Lakers organization for 20-plus years,” James said in the ESPN postgame interview when the Lakers won Game 2 of the NBA Finals in the jerseys. “For us to honor him, being on the floor, this is what it’s all about.”

The uniforms, featuring his rookie season’s shadow-box lettering and a Showtime-era scoop neck, were debuted on Jan. 26, 2018, exactly two years before Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died with seven others in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles.

The Lakers are playing in their first NBA Finals since Bryant led them to his fifth NBA championship amid a 20-year Lakers career.

And when, er, if the Lakers win the NBA championship on Friday night, it will be the last time they wear those Black Mamba jerseys with the current design. The tops have side panels with 16 stars, representing the franchise’s NBA championship count, which is most likely about to change. Mamba out.

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