- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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Apparently black is the new purple and gold.
“This is Hollywood nights, baby,” said Nick Young. “It’s my life, baby. Hollywood. I like these all-black jerseys. It’s mean.”
While Young has taken up the mantle as the team’s fashion guru after recently being named the No. 19 most stylish athlete of 2013 by GQ Magazine, he’s not the only one to express that the clothes, or uniforms in this case, can make the man.
“They definitely give you that look when you come in, definitely, with those black jerseys,” Wes Johnson said. “You see the Oakland Raiders having black on and you think of meanness and toughness, so, the ‘Hollywood nights,’ I hope it brings some different energy out of us.”
The Raiders are 4-8 this NFL season. The Nets, who also wear simple, black uniforms on the road, fell to 4-11 with the Lakers loss. So the color doesn’t guarantee that you will play well.
But as far as looking good?
“Those are amazing,” Steve Blake said. “I love them.”
“They’re cool,” Chris Kaman said.
“I like the black,” Jordan Farmar said. “I like switching up. They keep it classic. They don’t too much different. It’s the same cut, same everything, but just twisted it a little bit.”
The alternative uniform is part of the league's city-pride series, joining the Detroit Pistons’ "Motor City" uniforms and the Portland Trail Blazers' "Rip City" set, but unlike the others, it still says "Lakers" across the chest.
The Lakers will wear them five more times this season: Dec. 31 (against Milwaukee), Jan. 31 (Charlotte), Feb. 28 (Sacramento), March 21 (Washington) and April 11 (Golden State). All five of those games are at home, and four of those dates are on a Friday, similar to how the Lakers normally wear their white alternative uniforms -- introduced for the 2002-03 season -- only on Sundays.
The schedule also means that by the next time L.A. wears the uniform, a certain No. 24 (Kobe Bryant) will most likely be on the court.
“It’s a pretty good look, I think, for the Lakers,” Kaman said. “They have the Black Mamba and everything. I think he probably likes it.”
Added Young: “I’m shocked we’re wearing them without Kobe.”
Bryant actually beat his teammates to the punch, donning the jersey on the cover of Sports Illustrated back in October.
The rest of the Lakers had to settle for taking their own snap shots of the jerseys rather than pose in them for a magazine spread.
“As soon as we came in the locker room, people pulled out their cell phones, taking pictures and stuff,” Johnson said of the pregame scene Wednesday.
The black uniforms also inspired Lakers players to accessorize with footwear they wouldn’t usually sport with their normal purple-and-gold kits.
“People got different sneakers and stuff for it, too, trying to match it up with it,” said Johnson, who wore a black color way of the adidas “Crazy 97,” the shoe Bryant wore as a rookie with the Lakers. Kaman wore a black pair of Nike IDs with “Sasquatch,” a nickname he said he picked up in college, printed on the tongues.
“I’m just a super hairy dude, and that’s how it goes,” Kaman said.
Blake said he couldn’t wait to wear the black shorts come the summertime. How many other uniforms double as beach and barbecue wear? Young wasn’t going to wait that long. He was already crestfallen to see his alma mater, USC, add a black uniform to their kit after his days on campus as a Trojan. This time around, he planned on leaving Barclays Center with the shorts in his bag rather than putting them in the hands of Lakers equipment manager Carlos Maples at the end of the night.
“I already told him I’m not giving my shorts back,” Young said. “He said it’s cool. So I’m already taking my shorts.”
While Maples lost some of the items from his equipment haul, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was mostly at a loss for words when asked for his take on the look.
“Black Friday comes up pretty soon, right?” D’Antoni said with a grin before looking down at the cross-hatched, lavender-colored tie he was wearing. “I won’t clash, will I?”
Former Lakers forward and current ESPN LA 710 radio color analyst Mychal Thompson, who won two rings with the team during the “Showtime” era, said the jerseys clash with the Lakers’ history.
“I just love that purple and gold I fell in love with as a young boy and got to wear myself,” Thompson said. “So, when they change out of that, it’s to me, as an old-fashioned type of Laker fan, it just doesn’t seem right. But, I understand that it’s the new fad these days, the multiple, [University of] Oregon style of fashion where you get as many uniforms as possible. So, you just have to adapt to the new era, I guess.
“The good old home golds and the road purple, that’s what I like. But that’s just me. I don’t have a vote in it. I just like staying with the old-fashioned kind because, to me, you don’t see the [New York] Yankees changing, or even the [Boston] Celtics, and to me, the Lakers, Yankees and Celtics are the standard of what everyone tries to be, so I think we should just stick with what we have.”
Alternative jerseys just aren’t for everybody. But the black uniform seems to be more agreeable than the next alternative Lakers look on the schedule: tapered, short-sleeved jerseys for their game on Christmas Day against the Miami Heat.
“I think we got the tight jerseys coming up,” Kaman said. “That’s not going to be my friend. I got some spots [on my body] where that’s not going to be the best on me.”
2dMarc Stein and Ramona Shelburne