LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers paid tribute to Kobe Bryant during Game 4 of the NBA Playoffs on 8/24 — a date which marks the late Lakers legend’s two jersey numbers. The team wore ‘Black Mamba’ jerseys in honor of Kobe Day.
Kobe Bryant‘s memory lives on through his Los Angeles Lakers team, which donned “Black Mamba” jerseys for Game 4 of the NBA Playoffs against the Portland Trailblazers on Monday, Aug. 24. LeBron James and Co. wore the special snakeskin uniform, which features drop shadows behind the numbers, as well as a special patch for Kobe’s late daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant. The No. 2 patch is the number Gigi wore on the basketball court with her youth team. The design details are also a nod to the 1996-97 Lakers uniforms when Kobe was a rookie.
— MIA (@NBAonMIA) August 25, 2020
LeBron rocked the Kobe Black Mamba number eight jersey over a tie-dyed t-shirt as he made his way into the locker room prior to the game. He paired it with Cactus Plant Flea Market x Nike Blazer Mid sneakers:
8 💜💛 24 pic.twitter.com/XgRbLxuE1V
— NBA on Campus (@nbaoncampus) August 24, 2020
Even Trailblazers star Dame Lillard paid tribute to Mamba on Kobe Day by wearing his two numbers on the back of his game shoes:
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) August 24, 2020
At one point in the first quarter, the Lakers went up 24-8 against the Trailblazers, with Kobe’s numbers making another appearance!
on Kobe Day
the universe is wild pic.twitter.com/pBMPaQxsmZ
— Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) August 25, 2020
The Lakers first wore the “Black Mamba” uniforms on January 26, 2018, against the Chicago Bulls — two years to the day before Kobe and Gianna’s death in a helicopter crash in California. Before his passing, Kobe collaborated with Nike to design the alternative uniforms. Nike announced it will celebrate “Mamba Week,” starting on Kobe’s birthday (August 23), by making a $1 million donation to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, in addition to releasing new color-ways of his popular Kobe V sneakers. The Lakers, as well as teams around the league, including the WNBA, paid tribute to Kobe on his 42nd birthday.
Also on the 8/24 Kobe day, L.A. City Council members Curren Price and Herb Wesson introduced a proposal to rename a stretch of Figueroa Street next to downtown’s Staples Center in his honor. The three mile section from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near the University of Southern California in Exposition Park up to Olympic near Staples would be renamed Kobe Bryant Boulevard. The late Oscar-winner spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, in which he won five championships and played in seven NBA Finals. The team retired both of Kobe’s numbers, 8 and 24, on December 18, 2017 and Staples became known as the “House that Kobe built” as his home court for so many seasons.
Tonight’s tribute is one of many orchestrated by the Lakers. Before practice on Monday, August 17, the team watched a two-minute video that showed a preacher delivering a sermon about focus and faith, through the lens of Kobe’s life story, according to ESPN‘s Dave McMenamin. On February 24, the city of Los Angeles, with the help of the Lakers organization, held a public memorial for Kobe at Staples Center. His wife Vanessa Bryant, his teammate Shaquille O’Neal, along with Kobe’s good friend Michael Jordan, were among those who gave heartfelt speeches. Four months later at the 2020 ESPYS on June 21, Snoop Dogg honored Kobe in an emotional performance, as well as ESPN, which aired a touching video of his career highlights.
Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna both perished in a helicopter crash on January 26 — along with seven others including, her basketball teammates Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli; Sarah Chester, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser and the pilot Ara Zobayan. The group was on their way to a youth basketball game in Kobe’s Sikorsky S-76 private helicopter when it crashed in the hills of Southern California.
In April, Vanessa and Kobe would’ve celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary. In addition to Gianna, the couple shares daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, who turned 1 on June 20. Also in April, Gianna and her two Mamba Academy teammates, Alyssa and Payton were selected as honorary picks during the 2020 WNBA draft. Our thoughts are with the families affected by this tragedy.