Los Angeles Lakers switch to 'Black Mamba' uniforms for potential title-clinching Game 5

The Los Angeles Lakers will try to win their 17th NBA championship in Black Mamba fashion.

The Lakers will wear their "Black Mamba" uniforms, which are styled in honor of the late Kobe Bryant, in Game 5 on Friday.

They were slated to wear the black alternative uniforms in Games 2 and 7 of the NBA Finals, a team source confirmed to ESPN. But on Friday, the Lakers can clinch the title, as they lead the Miami Heat 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

"It means something," LeBron James said Thursday. "Something more than just a uniform. It represents an individual who gave the franchise 20 years of his blood, sweat and tears and his dedication to his craft, both on and off the floor, to make that franchise be proud of him, and hopefully vice versa."

The Lakers are 4-0 this postseason when wearing the Black Mamba uniforms, designed by Nike in collaboration with Bryant.

"Mamba and Mambacita jerseys approved for game 5," Vanessa Bryant wrote in an Instagram story Wednesday night. "Let's go @lakers."

Lakers coach Frank Vogel, Anthony Davis and James have spoken often about trying to channel Bryant's legendary "Mamba mentality" and relentless desire to win. This Lakers team dedicated the rest of the season to Bryant -- who played all 20 seasons of his career in the purple and gold -- following his death.

Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles in January.

James and Davis got tattoos in honor of Bryant. The team chants "1-2-3 Mamba!" when breaking huddles.

"If we come out and do what we're supposed to do, then we can remain undefeated [in the alternate jersey this postseason]," Davis said Thursday. "We just think that for all the things that happened this season, with our team specifically and our organization, that to be able to close it out in the Black Mamba uniforms will just make it all worth it. Obviously his legacy in the NBA and then just with the organization, period, is something special.

"For us to [potentially] close it out in his honor is something that we look forward to, something that -- an insane amount of pressure for sure, but we don't want to lose, we don't want to let him down."

Davis hit a game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer against the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals and said the Black Mamba uniforms worn by the Lakers for that contest provided inspiration.

"Obviously, we're representing him," Davis said afterward. "Especially in those jerseys. It's his jersey, one he created, and any time we put it on, we want to win."

The Lakers first wore the Bryant-inspired uniform on Jan. 26, 2018, against the Chicago Bulls -- two years to the day before Bryant's death.

The alternate uniform is part of the "Laker Lore Series," which included a jersey inspired by Magic Johnson in 2018-19 and another by Shaquille O'Neal in 2019-20.

The Lakers' Black Mamba uniform features a snakeskin print and drop shadows on the numbers, a flashback to a detail from the Lakers uniforms when Bryant was a rookie in 1996-97.

ESPN's Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.