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The Los Angeles Lakers took the floor on Monday with a look both old and new, and undeniably meaningful.
The Lakers wore their “Black Mamba” jerseys in their blowout 135-115 win against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4 in honor of Kobe Bryant. The Lakers were previously reported to have plans to wear them later in the playoffs, but the date bearing the numerical signifier of “8/24” turned out to be a perfect day for them.
The jerseys also featured a heart patch with the number ‘2’ on them, the jersey number of Bryant’s daughter Gianna.
The Lakers were clearly feeling something early in the game, running out to a 24-8 lead (yes, really) in the first quarter against the Blazers. They quickly pushed that lead to a massive 38-points early in the second half, too.
LeBron: "When I looked up and saw we were up 24-8, I was like, OK, he's here in the building."
— Bill Oram (@billoram) August 25, 2020
Designed by Bryant as part of the team’s lore series in 2018, the “Black Mamba” jerseys have taken on a new meaning since the death of the Lakers legend, his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash in January. The black jerseys, recently re-released by Nike, feature a snakeskin pattern with yellow accents and quickly became a fan favorite when first introduced.
Kobe tributes seen throughout NBA playoffs
The Bryant tributes, which have poured in since Bryant’s birthday on Sunday, weren’t limited to the Lakers. Damian Lillard, the star of their opponent, wore Bryant’s two numbers on his shoes while facing the team.
Houston Rockets star James Harden wore similar shoes against the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier on Monday, while teammate Russell Westbrook, out with a quad injury, watched in a Bryant Lakers jersey.
The Lakers “KB” and “2” patches in honor of Bryant and Gianna were also displayed along the court throughout Monday’s games.
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