Marco Alvarado, visiting from his home in San Diego on a trip to Disneyland, swung by El Segundo to get a new LeBron James jersey when they went on sale at the Lakers Team Shop in El Segundo on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. (Photo by Mike Mullen, for SCNG)
Long- time Lakers fan Shahin Ourian of the Palms area of Los Angeles, makes a photo of his 8 year-ol Shih Tzu with LeBron James t-shirts. New Lakers jerseys, designed more like the 1980s-era versions, went on sale at the Lakers Team Shop in El Segundo on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. (Photo by Mike Mullen, for SCNG)
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There was already quite a bit of LeBron James merchandise available at the Lakers Team Shop in El Segundo on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. (Photo by Mike Mullen, for SCNG)
New Lakers jerseys went on sale at the Lakers Team Shop in El Segundo on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. The new jerseys are more like the 1980s-era design.(Photo by Mike Mullen, for SCNG)
New Lakers jerseys went on sale at the Lakers Team Shop in El Segundo on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. The new jerseys are more like the 1980s-era design. (Photo by Mike Mullen, for SCNG)
EL SEGUNDO — Yoshi Hiradate smoothed out the creases in the gold jersey as he looked into the mirror, brow furrowed. An important question daunted him.
Medium or large?
“I don’t want to mess it up,” he said.
Hiradate of Torrance was just one of the several dozen concerned shoppers who came through the Lakers’ team store in El Segundo looking for one thing: a new LeBron James Lakers jersey, designed by Nike to incorporate themes from the Showtime Lakers era of the 1980s.
The authentic jerseys will set back a consumer $110, but the price point proved to be a minor obstacle. The El Segundo team store, mere paces from the Lakers’ training facility, had 300 authentic gold jerseys ready for sale on Tuesday morning, when the jerseys were unveiled. By 2 p.m., the store had nearly run out of stock.
Replicas in gold and purple were available for $80, but for discerning shoppers like Raymond Cruz of El Segundo, there’s nothing like the real thing.
“I just wanted to see it in person,” Cruz said as he was preparing to walk out of the store, jersey in hand. “It reminds you of the old Showtime jersey: They got rid of the V-necks from the last few years, and I don’t think this one is as neon yellow as the last few. It’s more gold, which is the color it should be.”
The jerseys, which were introduced via a Nike video narrated by second-year forward Kyle Kuzma, have another distinctive old-school touch: The numbers have a vertical drop shadow, which is reminiscent of the Magic Johnson era.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 31, 2018
They come in gold, white and purple (named the Icon, Association and Statement models by Nike respectively), but only the gold was commercially available in El Segundo on Tuesday. More jerseys are expected soon to meet burgeoning demand.
Just as the fans who bought new jerseys during their lunch hour were eager to turn the page on the uniform of the last few seasons, so too were they ready to forget the disappointing results of those years.
“I would only get a jersey for a megastar,” Hiradate said. “The Lakers haven’t come close to winning a championship for the last seven years or so. I used to hate LeBron a lot, but I started to respect him more going against the Warriors for the last few years, and he proved he can carry a team to the Finals.”
The Lakers faithful always come out for games, but the hope for these fans was that Staples Center can recapture some of the prestige of the best Laker teams of the past with the addition of James. They said they didn’t necessarily expect a title right away – not with the Golden State Warriors still in the midst of a dominant run – but they expect to go back to the playoffs after missing out for the last five seasons and perhaps win a series or two.
For that, they said, they’re willing to buy in.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Paul Abdelmalak, who described himself as a lifelong Laker fan. “We’ve missed out on so many free agents the last few years, and finally hit with the best player in the world. I’m excited.”
The new #LakeShow lineup.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 31, 2018
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