The Los Angeles Lakers have made it a point to honor the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant through an unprecedented season. Now that they are just one victory away from winning the NBA Finals, the team has decided to wear their Black Mamba City Edition jersey for a potential closeout against the Miami Heat in Game 5.
At 3-1, the Lakers are on the verge of securing their 17th title in franchise history and the first since Bryant led the team in 2010. Although the jerseys have usually been reserved for Game 2 of each playoff series as part of a tribute to Gianna Bryant as well, they will attempt to win the championship in flawless fashion as a proper homage to their legacy.
Los Angeles is a perfect 4-0 in the Mamba jerseys through the postseason so far. Of course, this game will be carrying the highest stakes since they also risk suffering their first loss in them.
While Anthony Davis acknowledged there is a sense of added pressure that comes with it, the Lakers are motivated to win in spectacular fashion for Kobe. “If we come out and do what we’re supposed to do, then we can remain undefeated,” Davis said.
“We just think that for all the things that happened this season, with our team specifically and our organization, that to be able to close it out in the Black Mamba uniforms will just make it all worth it. Obviously his legacy in the NBA and then just with the organization, period, is something special. For us to close it out in his honor is something that we look forward to.
“An insane amount of pressure, for sure, but we don’t want to lose, we don’t want to let him down. Every time we lose in the jerseys, we feel like we’ve let him down, and we don’t want to do that. We want to remain undefeated. If we come in and do the things that we’re supposed to do on both ends of the floor, then we can remain undefeated and close this thing out and make this moment even more special.”
Like Davis, LeBron James was not with the team when the Lakers first unveiled Bryant’s design in 2017. “I thought they were cool from what I saw when they wore them a few years ago,” he said.
“Obviously, until you get your hands on them, you don’t get to see the detail in them. It’s super detailed. It has that snake Mamba print on it. It means something more than just a uniform. It represents an individual who gave the franchise 20 years of his blood, sweat and tears and his dedication to his craft, both on and off the floor, to make that franchise be proud of him, and hopefully vice versa.
“I think last year we got a Shaq jersey. Magic did one, as well. I think it’s just pretty cool when you know you’re wearing a uniform that a legend had his hands on.”
Philadelphia native Markieff Morris further identities with Black Mamba look
Beyond being part of the Lakers franchise, Markieff Morris has even more of a connection with Bryant’s jersey.
“It’s perfect for me, man. Growing up in the Philadelphia area, a lot of us idolized Kobe being from Philly,” Morris said.
“As far as the game, I think we go in there with the mindset of, this is not the closeout game. We go in there as, this is a must-win, like we had last game. We stay uncomfortable until the clock hits zero and they say Lakers win. I think we go in with the mindset of a must-win and that’ll be key to us winning.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!