The Lakers won’t be the men in black when they play the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night in the semifinal round of the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament.
It wasn’t their decision.
The NBA wanted all four teams remaining in the tournament to wear uniforms that contrast as much as possible with Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena court, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
The league determined the Lakers uniform that would go best with the venue’s specially designed red-and-royal-blue floor would be the gold “Icon Edition.” The team has worn its black “City Edition” uniforms in their last two tournament games — including Tuesday night’s dramatic 106-103 quarterfinal victory over the Phoenix Suns at Crypto.com Arena.
The source told The Times that the league alerted all the quarterfinal teams of the uniform situation last week, ahead of the neutral-site games in Vegas. All of the tournament games up to this point have been played on one of the participating teams’ home courts, all of which were specially painted for the first-year event.
The Pelicans will be donning their white “Association Edition” uniforms, which they’ve worn during their two most recent tournament games — a 116-106 win over the Clippers on Nov. 24 and a 127-117 quarterfinal win over the Sacramento Kings. Both of those wins were on the road.
The Lakers have worn the black uniforms for all three of their tournament home games, which also include a 134-107 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 14 and a 131-99 win over the Utah Jazz on Nov. 21.
The good news for LeBron James and company is they’ve worn the Icon unis in their other two tournament games and won both of those as well — 122-119 over the Suns in Phoenix and 107-95 over the Trail Blazers in Portland.