On Wednesday night, the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers were victorious in a hard-fought, critical 120-116 overtime victory over the Denver Nuggets on the road. This was an important game for standings and momentum in the last game before the All-Star break. The Nuggets (38-17) are now 4 games behind the Lakers for the top spot.
As usual, they were powered by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and they also got some key contributions from Dwight Howard, Alex Caruso, and Avery Bradley. LeBron recorded his 12th triple-double of the season with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 14 assists (15-29 FG). Anthony Davis was their leading scorer with 33 points, along with 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks (12-23 FG, 3-6 3-PT).
The Lakers improved their record to 41-12, and in the process, set an NBA record, with 17 straight road wins against Western Conference opponents. But an interesting side to this game is that for a change, they wore purple on the road, and they have been highly successful in those threads, particularly on the road.
Since Nike has taken over the design for NBA uniforms and gear in 2017, there is no longer a clear-cut home and away design. There are at least four designated uniforms for each team: Association, Icon, Statement, and City. There are teams that dig into their past for a Classic edition uniform.
The Lakers’ Association uniforms are white, the Icon uniforms are gold, the Statement uniforms are purple, and the City uniforms, designed by Shaquille O’Neal, are gold. For the latter, among other things, white lettering is used, and three stars are on each side of the jersey and shorts to represent the three straight championships won by Shaq and the late Kobe Bryant from 2000 to 2002.
For over a half-century, the Lakers have been synonymous with purple and gold: purple on the road, gold at home. In 2002, after legendary broadcaster Chick Hearn’s passing, a white uniform was made in honor of him, to play specifically on Sundays and on Christmas Day. While the Lakers mostly wear gold at home, they have worn it a lot on the road this season. The gold Icon uniforms and the City uniforms have been seen on plenty of national road broadcasts.
The Statement uniforms have been used occasionally at Staples Center, and the traditional “Sunday White” Association uniforms have been used home and away on days other than Sunday. Until last Saturday’s road game against the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers last wore the Statement uniforms on January 15, in a home loss versus the Magic. The Lakers uniform choice has actually been a source of controversy among purists who like the tradition and history of purple on the road, and gold at home.
According to Tim Harris, the Lakers’ chief operating officer, the Lakers have been forced to wear gold on the road often because the home teams wear dark uniforms. The home team picks the uniform, and the road team has to choose a contrasting color. But perhaps the most interesting thing about the whole uniform dynamic is about the Statement uniforms; the Lakers are 11-1 this season when wearing them, including 7-0 on the road:
10/25 vs Jazz (W)
11/03 @ Spurs (W)
11/08 vs Heat (W)
11/12 @ Suns (W)
11/13 vs Warriors (W)
11/15 vs Kings (W)
11/23 @ Grizzlies (W)
12/06 @ Blazers (W)
12/28 @ Blazers (W)
1/15 vs Magic (L)
2/08 @ Warriors (W)
2/12 @ Nuggets (W)
NBA team uniforms are set ahead of time and updated when the City Edition uniforms are unveiled during the season.