Kobe Bryant Lakers Jersey History
Kobe Bryant, Mike Krzyzewski, Team USA, Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers legend and Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest to ever play the game of basketball. He is also perhaps the most impactful player in Lakers franchise history, spending all 20 years of his illustrious career in the purple and gold.

Throughout that 20-year career, there have been 36 different Kobe Bryant jerseys worn between the Lakers, All-Star Games, and his time with Team USA at the Olympics. Some of these uniforms have become legendary – like Bryant’s Black Mamba jersey – while some are among the NBA’s most iconic throwbacks jerseys.

Kobe’s jersey number has become an iconic symbol for the NBA, with teams like the Dallas Mavericks completely retiring their No. 24 jersey to honor Bryant after his tragic passing. The number he wore had a great impact on the game, players and fans.

To honor the nonstop energy and aggressiveness that came with the 24 jersey, LakersNation.com will break down the history of Bryant’s 36 jerseys, going all the way back to the first one he put on when he began his NBA career in 1996.

The First Kobe Bryant Jersey: The Lakers

Bryant’s jersey journey began long before marriage and kids. He started with a clean slate that would inevitably turn him into one of the most monumental players in NBA history.

Bryant first donned a Lakers uniform on November 3, 1996, when he made his NBA debut against the Minnesota Timberwolves. For that game, just the second of the 1996-97 season, the Lakers wore their classic gold uniforms with purple lettering and numbering. Under Bryant’s name, the No. 8 was printed is bold purple with white shadowing.

Widely considered one of the best Lakers jerseys, the aforementioned version was worn by the team from 1978 to 1999, spanning through the Showtime Era and Bryant’s first three seasons alongside Shaquille O’Neal.

In the third game of Bryant’s career, his No. 8 jersey switched when the Lakers wore their purple road jerseys on November 5, 1996, against the New York Knicks. This jersey was also what Bryant wore when he took part in – and won – the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.

First Jersey Rebrand of Bryant’s Career

Prior to the 1999-2000 season, the Lakers found themselves a new home – the Staples Center – and with it came a new look and a broader perspective. Bryant missed the first month of that season but debuted his number 8 in the team’s brand-new gold home uniforms on December 1, 1999. L.A. defeated the Golden State Warriors and would win an NBA championship in 2000 while wearing the home gold.

Bryant’s first road game of the 1999-2000 season, when he donned his fourth NBA uniform, came against the Sacramento Kings on December 8, 1999. Although that jersey was worn in a loss in its first appearance, Bryant would go on to celebrate two NBA championships – 2001 and 2002 – while wearing the updated Lakers’ road purple uniform.

Kobe Bryant Throwback Jersey

On April 11, 2002, the Lakers unveiled a blue throwback jersey commemorating the team’s years in Minneapolis. The uniform was an aesthetically pleasing shade of baby blue with gold lettering reading “MPLS” along the front.

Bryant and the other players on the team fittingly first wore their Minneapolis throwback jersey against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Lakers secured a victory in one of the final games of the regular season, while Bryant put up 28 points. The Lakers would go on to win the championship this season, their last title of the Bryant-O’Neal era.

The Lakers put together another blue throwback jersey in December of 2003. This time, it was to celebrate the early days of the Los Angeles teams with the older players and Jerry West. The jersey was a darker blue with white, cursive lettering reading “Los Angeles.”

And in 2004, the Lakers did this yet again, combining the two previous designs. This was created to commemorate the team’s final season in Minneapolis, with baby blue coloring and white lettering saying “Lakers,” Bryant wore his No. 8 just below the team’s name with four white stars surrounding the design.

Post-three-peat Era

Despite not winning another NBA championship until 2009, the Lakers maintained a similar jersey scheme for almost the entirety of Bryant’s career. However, on Christmas Day 2002, the Lakers unveiled what became known as the “Sunday Whites” jersey in a tribute to late broadcaster Chick Hearn.

That day, the Lakers lost to the Kings, but Bryant put up 27 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists. And it would not be the last prolific performance in the Sunday Whites. On January 22, 2006, Bryant scored 81 points in the Lakers’ famous white jersey.

Up until 2003, players would wear their own teams’ jerseys during the NBA All-Star Game. The home conference would have their players wear a white jersey from their teams’ collection while the away conference would wear a dark jersey.

But in 2003, this changed, and the NBA put together All-Star uniforms to be worn by every player. Bryant was, of course, selected to the 2003 All-Star Game, where he wore the No. 8 on a red Western Conference jersey with white lettering and white stars along the sides.

He would go on to wear No. 8 in a similarly styled jersey for every All-Star Game through 2006.
Bryant Changes Jersey to 24

In the summer of 2006, Bryant decided to make a drastic change. Although rumors would spread before and after this summer that Bryant wanted to be traded by the Lakers, the big change was not that request, but rather a jersey number switch.

Prior to the 2006-07 season, Bryant changed from No. 8 for No. 24. The Lakers legend attributed this swap to the start of a new era. In this sense, we can see 24 as growth and a new era of Bryant’s career.

While it was seen by many as a chance to distance himself from the tumultuous nature of his relationship with O’Neal, Bryant maintained it was to show that he was a different player than he used to be. In his words, “physical attributes are not there the way they used to be, but the maturity level is greater.”

Bryant debuted No. 24 in the Lakers modern home gold uniform at Staples Center on November 3, 2006, against the Seattle Supersonics. He put up 23 points, four rebounds, and six assists in a Lakers victory to move the team to 3-0 on the year.

Against the same Supersonics in Seattle, Bryant debuted the No. 24 in the Lakers modern road purple jerseys the very next game, on November 5, 2006 in a. loss. On November 12, 2006 – in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies – Bryant’s No. 24 got its first look at Hearn’s Sunday Whites.

Bryant would win his first championship apart from O’Neal in the road purple jerseys during the 2009 NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic. Then, the next season, he would take home the 2010 championship at home against the Boston Celtics in the home gold jerseys.
Alternate Kobe Bryant Jerseys

The Lakers donned several alternate jerseys during Bryant’s 10 seasons wearing No. 24. The first came on March 25, 2007. The Lakers – celebrating their large Latino fan base – debuted a Noche Latina jersey that featured a specialty patch as well as lining that represented the flags of all the Latin nations. That night, they defeated the Golden State Warriors behind 43 points and nine rebounds from Bryant.

The next season, L.A. switched their Noche Latina jerseys to the now-famous “Los Lakers” uniforms. Bryant debuted this jersey on March 23, 2008 against the Warriors. The Lakers lost that game, but Bryant had 36 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists.

Taking it back a few months, Bryant got his first taste of Showtime when the Lakers debuted a “Showtime Throwback” gold uniform on December 21, 2007. While this was not the elite scoring performance that Bryant was used to, he was able to lead L.A. to a victory against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Following the success of this Showtime Throwback, the Lakers decided to honor another former era – the 1971-72 championship team featuring Jerry West – with a 1970’s Throwback gold jersey.

They debuted these jerseys on January 30, 2011, their first meeting against the Celtics after defeating them in the 2010 NBA Finals. L.A. would fall to Boston that night, but not without a fight from Bryant, who scored 41 points while honoring West and the 1971-72 Lakers.

The final alternate of Bryant’s storied career would be perhaps his longest lasting legacy. On Halloween night, 2014, the Lakers debuted their “Hollywood Nights” uniform, a black, sleeved jersey. Bryant would score 21 points in a Lakers loss on this night.

However, the Black Mamba jerseys – which were styled similarly to Hollywood Nights – have become a massive part of Lakers lore in the wake of Bryant’s tragic death in 2020.

Kobe Bryant Jersey History for All-star Game, Christmas and Team USA

Bryant was selected for all 10 All-Star Games while wearing No. 24. However, he only appeared in seven of the games due to injuries. Bryant won multiple All-Star Game MVPs while wearing the NBA’s various designed jerseys, with the All-Star Game MVP award ultimately being named after him following his passing.

In 2012, the NBA decided teams that play on Christmas would wear a specialty jersey for one night only. From that point on, Bryant only appeared in two Christmas Day games, 2012 and 2015, adding two more uniforms to his lexicon.

Finally, the last of Bryant’s 36 jerseys came from Team USA. Between the 2007 FIBA tournament, a United States championship; the 2008 Redeem Team, a United States gold medal; and the 2012 Olympics, a United States gold medal; Bryant donned seven Team USA uniforms.

Kobe Bryant Jerseys Go Down in History

Bryant made a successful career and name for himself. In his time playing for the NBA, Kobe scored 16,777 points in his No. 8 jersey and 16,866 points wearing No. 24. These jerseys have made a major impact on the NBA and will continue to go down in history as new players emerge.

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