When the Los Angeles Lakers take the floor for Game 4 of their playoff series with the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night, Kobe Bryant will be on their minds and in their hearts.
The Lakers will channel their Mamba Mentality by wearing “Black Mamba,” City Edition jerseys to honor Bryant, who would have turned 42 on August 23. Los Angeles jerseys will also have a special patch with a white heart and the No. 2 to honor his daughter, Gianna.
The Lakers shared a preview of the special jerseys at 8:24 a.m. on Kobe Bryant Day in Los Angeles.
The jersey was designed by Kobe Bryant and first unveiled during the 2017-18 season. The black alternate jersey featured shadowbox numbers, a snakeskin-esque print and includes 16 stars on the side panels to represent each of the Lakers’ 16 championships.
The August 24 date is significant for two reasons: Bryant wore the numbers 8 and 24 during his Hall of Fame career with the Lakers.
Bryant, who was one of the greatest basketball players of his generation, died in a helicopter crash alongside his daughter, Gianna, and seven others in January. He played his entire 20-season career with the Lakers, helping them win five NBA championships and two NBA Finals MVPs.
In an emotional first game back following Bryant’s death, the Lakers lost to the Blazers 127-119 at Staples Center on Jan. 31. Damian Lillard honored “The Black Mamba,” with an assertive 48-point performance.
"It’s tough from an emotional standpoint, but he’s worthy, more than worthy," Lillard said. "That type of love, that type of respect, and that type of honor that was given to him in the first game since it happened. It was only right. Compared to what his family has to deal with it, his closest friends have to do, us having to honor him in that way and then play a game is a small thing."
Carmelo Anthony did not play, as he mourned the death of his close friend.
Several Trail Blazers, including CJ McCollum, Nassir Little and Mario Hezonja, sent Kobe birthday wishes on Sunday.
Monday’s game will once again be an emotional contest between the Trail Blazers and Lakers, as the sports world continues to honor the NBA legend and all-time great.
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]