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Volume 24 No. 200
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Company Men: Kobe, LeBron Play Key Role In Design Of New Uniforms For Lakers, Cavs

The Lakers as part of Nike's City Edition jersey collection "will introduce a black uniform" designed by Kobe Bryant that is "adorned with accents that honor one of the franchise’s legends" -- Bryant himself, according to Bill Oram of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. The jerseys feature a "snakeskin pattern with Bryant’s two jersey numbers -- 8 and 24 -- under the flaps of the shorts." The front of the waistband also "features a 24, the digits connected in a way that they appear to say 'L.A.'" The snakeskin pattern is a "nod to Bryant’s self-given alter-ego and nickname, the Black Mamba." The Lakers are "leaning heavily on Bryant," who retired in '16, to "satiate fans." The new look will debut on Jan. 26 and will be "worn eight times" this season (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 12/28). Bryant said, "The snake came to me immediately. ... I spent months trying to talk myself out of it. But in the end, simplicity always wins." ESPN.com's Zach Lowe noted the Lakers are the only team planning to use its "City Edition" jersey to "honor franchise legends." Nike had the chance to shoot for something out of the box with a uniform the team might wear only a handful of times." They could "reinvent the brand without really reinventing it." Nike Senior Graphic Designer Elesban Montoya said that the Lakers "toyed with the idea of enlarging the ball in the team's primary logo and blowing up the logo itself -- a play on the Lakers being 'larger than life.'" The team ran every "move design past Bryant," including ones of "orange, sunset-themed jerseys that would hint at L.A.'s weather and glamorous nightlife." He liked the sunset theme, but his mind "kept going back to the black mamba." The jersey is "littered with little treasures, including eight stars running "down the outside of the shorts on each leg -- one star for each of the Lakers' 16 championships" (ESPN.com, 12/27). Lakers coach Luke Walton said of Bryant, "He did a nice job with the subtleties of the jersey he put together" (L.A. TIMES, 12/28).

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND
: In Cleveland, Joey Morona reports Cavaliers F LeBron James, as "one of Nike's signature pitch men, played a role in the design" of the team's City Edition uniform. The jersey is "different" in that they are "primarily gray with black and gold trim, giving them a subtle Pittsburgh Steelers vibe." The words "The Land" replace the "traditional city or team nickname across the front." James famously "started calling Cleveland 'The Land' when he returned to the team" in '14. He said, "I love the color scheme, I love the Ohio crest on the front of the shorts, I like the color combination of the gray with the gold in navy. ... They allowed us to do a lot with it. It was fun." The uniform "doesn't incorporate wine or navy, two of the team's primary colors" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 12/28). ESPN's Amin Elhassan said, "I love it. It's a different look for them. I like the side piping here. ... The color scheme, I love it" ("The Jump," ESPN2, 12/27).