Source: Lakers told no black uniforms for Vegas

NBA

It turns out the Los Angeles Lakers won’t be back in black.

The Lakers clinched a trip to Las Vegas and a spot in the semifinals of the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament with a 106-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday while wearing their black alternative “city edition” uniforms.

The jersey-set aesthetic has been a hit with the players, and L.A. is undefeated in the black uniforms so far, all during in-season tournament play. The Lakers went 3-0 in two group-play games against the Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz, plus the quarterfinal win over the Suns, donning the dark colors.

While the Lakers players would prefer to continue to wear their black ensemble against the New Orleans Pelicans in the semifinals, sources told ESPN, the NBA has other plans.

The Lakers are slated to wear their gold “icon” jerseys, according to their uniform schedule on the team website, which lists the colorway planned for every game for L.A. through the end of the regular season. The Pelicans will be in their white “association” uniforms.

The NBA is preventing the Lakers from wearing their black uniforms because of concerns over the visual contrast between the jerseys and the design of the specialized in-season court the semifinals will be played on at T-Mobile Arena, a source with knowledge of the subject told ESPN.

When one Lakers player was informed the team wouldn’t be allowed to wear black on Thursday, he replied, “That’s ass.”

Lakers players embraced the look beyond just the uniforms. Rui Hachimura, who returned from a five-game absence due to a nasal fracture, wore a black protective face mask against the Suns. And LeBron James wore an all-black outfit — complete with thick, black Louis Vuitton sunglasses — to the arena for the game.

James’ teams have a history of success in black alternative uniforms. His Lakers went 4-1 in the NBA bubble in the 2020 postseason en route to winning the title while wearing “Black Mamba” uniforms to honor Kobe Bryant, who died earlier that year.

The Cleveland Cavaliers started and finished their 3-1 comeback against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Finals in black, too, wearing the alternatives for road wins in Game 5 and the clincher in Game 7 at Oracle Arena.

While the wardrobe selection might seem trivial, James — an unabashed fan of Colorado football coach Deion Sanders — takes the former NFL star’s thoughts on fashion to heart.

“He’s got the old saying of, ‘When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you play good. And when you play good, they pay good,'” James told ESPN when asked about Sanders during Lakers training camp in October. “I mean, I feel like that’s instilled in me since I was a kid.”

With a $500,000 cash prize per player at stake for the winners of the in-season tournament this weekend, it’s understandable how the looking-good portion of that maxim could matter just a little bit more to the Lakers right now.

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