LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Donning their “Black Mamba” uniforms in honor of the late Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers will look to close out the Miami Heat in game 5 of the NBA Finals Friday night and claim their 17th title.
The Lakers took a three-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series Tuesday with a 102-96 victory, with LeBron James scoring 11 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter.
“To me this series is far from over,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Thursday. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. This is a great basketball team that we’re playing and my focus is solely on all the little details that go into what we have to do to get one more win.”
The Lakers will wear their “Black Mamba” uniform in Game 5, which like the entire NBA postseason will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Lakers had initially planned to wear their purple “Statement” uniform for Game 5, but switched to the “Black Mamba” uniform because Friday’s game could be the last of the series.
The Lakers are 4-0 in the playoffs wearing the uniforms, designed in part by Kobe.
“It means something, something more than just a uniform,” James said Thursday. “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.”
James described the uniform as “super-duper detailed,” specifically citing its snake Mamba print.
“Until you get your hands on them, you don’t get to see the detail in them,” James said.
“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,” Anthony Davis said.
A title would tie the Lakers with the Boston Celtics for the most NBA championships for a franchise. History is on the Lakers side. Of the 35 previous teams to take 3-1 leads in the finals, only the 2016 Golden State Warriors failed to win the title, losing to the James-led Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Lakers won their first NBA title in 1949 while still in Minneapolis. They didn’t relocate to L.A. until 1960. They won their last title in 2010 with Kobe and coaching legend Phil Jackson.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)