Frank Vogel was asked about this on Monday ahead of the Lakers’ first game against the Trail Blazers on Tuesday. Here’s what he had to say (reported by Matthew Moreno of Lakers Nation):
Frank Vogel was asked about report Lakers will wear the Kobe Bryant City Edition jersey if they advance in #NBAPlayoffs
"We know Kobe's birthday is coming up, Kobe Day is coming up next week. We do intend to honor him but we don't have anything to announce further than that."
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) August 17, 2020
Vogel appears to be keeping the Lakers’ plans to honor Kobe Bryant close to the chest. He didn’t confirm whether or not we’d be seeing the “Black Mamba” jerseys worn originally by the team in 2017, but he did indicate that the team will be doing something on Kobe’s birthday (August 23rd) and Kobe Bryant Day (August 24th, of course).
Official jersey selections for the first four games. Mamba jerseys on 8/24 for game four. 🐍 pic.twitter.com/Px2992AQag
— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) August 18, 2020
Although Vogel didn’t reveal anything, we noticed on the NBA’s website that the Lakers will be wearing a black “Classic” jersey on August 24th, the date of Game 4 of their first-round series. This would appear to confirm that the Lakers will be wearing the “Black Mamba” jerseys then, in what is sure to be an emotional tribute to the Lakers legend.
Since Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others passed away tragically in a helicopter crash in January, Lakers players, coaches, and management have dedicated this season to the franchise icon. According to the LA Times’ Brad Turner, they plan to do so in a more symbolic way this postseason, by wearing their Black Mamba jerseys if they advance past the first round of the playoffs.
The Lakers wore these black and gold Kobe-inspired jerseys in 2017. They featured a snakeskin texture as an homage to his Black Mamba nickname and the mentality that he inspired. It appears as though the jersey will make a comeback if the Lakers advance past the first round against the Portland Trail Blazers, as expected.
The purple and gold have been wearing a patch on their jerseys to honor both Kobe and Gigi.
Game four of this series is scheduled to be played on August 24th which is aptly called Mamba Day in honor of the two jersey numbers Bryant sported during his 20-year career with the franchise. It would not be shocking to see the Lakers come out to play in the Mamba jerseys as early as that game.
It has been an emotional ride since January after the team and fans lost someone who meant so much to Lakers history and was an inspiration to many. It’s not fair to ask the players to win the championship for Kobe and that sort of emotional toll to an already difficult season. But it is touching gesture by the team to honor him while they attempt to make a run for their 17th championship and their first since Kobe won it in 2010.