Everyone knows Kobe Bryant’s nickname: The Black Mamba. Now, thanks to a collaboration with Nike, the Los Angeles Lakers have decided to take honoring the recently retired athlete one step further — by designing an entire jersey based on his nickname. The Lakers revealed their new snakeskin themed "city edition" alternate jersey on Wednesday, which wouldn’t have been possible without the man himself.
"The snake came to me immediately," Bryant told ESPN’s senior writer Zach Lowe in an interview. "It came to me so fast, I was thinking, 'This can't be that easy. This idea is not going to work.' I spent months trying to talk myself out of it. But in the end, simplicity always wins."
Nike had other ideas, but once the Mamba’s mind was made up, that was the end of discussion. "We talked about playing off the weather and the sunset, all this gimmicky shit," Bryant told Lowe. "But it all felt like trying to talk ourselves out of the simplest idea. In the end, you have to get right to the truth of it."
The jerseys include a few cool additions: An "LA 24" on the belt buckle, along with the numbers 8 and 24 under the flap of the shorts. Also, eight stars are placed on each leg of the shorts. Any Lakers fan will tell you the symbolism — 16 stars for 16 championships.
Some fans have said that the color black is too simple for a team known for its gaudy purple, yellow and sometimes blue color scheme. Bryant, however, is a fan of the black. "Black added a level of mystery," Bryant said. "You watch athletes run up and down the floor, but you don't know what is inside of them. And that's what the black mamba stands for -- what is inside of you. It doesn't stand just for me. It stands for an attitude that should be inside of you when you put the Laker jersey on. You should play with a killer approach."
At least one of his former teammates is a fan of the mamba-inspired fit. "I think they're awesome," Lakers head coach Luke Walton told the Los Angeles Times. "I can't wait to get one for myself. I'm not gonna suit up. I'll just wear it around the house. Full uniform. Tape the ankles and everything."
The “city edition” jerseys are a part of a new sponsorship deal with Nike that began this season. The Lakers will wear the Bryant-inspired jerseys for the first time on January 26.