Why The LA Lakers Wear Purple And Gold Uniforms

"What do you think?" Daffy Duck asks Bugs Bunny early on in "Space Jam" as he models potential jerseys for the Looney Tunes' upcoming basketball game. He settles on an impersonation of Dennis Rodman wearing a yellow jersey with purple shorts. "I'm kinda partial to purple and gold myself," Daffy lisps. "It goes better with my coloring."

Ultimately, the Toon Squad does not use Daffy's preferred color scheme — probably a wise choice considering that their player-coach Michael Jordan was with the Chicago Bulls. Yet the duck's impression did predict Rodman's eventual move to the LA Lakers, who do wear purple and gold. They don't wear them to match anyone's feathers, though, and they haven't always used these colors. The Lakers were originally the Detroit Gems before they relocated to Minnesota in 1947 and were renamed after the region's lakes. While in the North Star State, they wore gold and powder blue, but when they moved west to Los Angeles in 1960, they dropped the gold and wore white uniforms with royal blue letters and powder blue trim. 

The switch to purple and gold came when Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke — who also owned the hockey team the Kings — moved the Lakers into the Forum in 1967. According to the NBA, he chose the colors to make the Lakers look more "regal," and with purple and gold being complementary colors associated with royalty, it was a natural choice to mix them.

The uniform details have changed

The LA Lakers still wear the purple and gold color combination to this day, but the exact details have changed over the years. Though Jack Kent Cooke wanted the monarchial associations that come with the color purple, he didn't like the name. Thus the Lakers' dark hue was officially called "Forum blue" until Cooke sold the Lakers in 1979. The new owners were comfortable calling it "royal purple," and eventually just "purple."

The arrangement of the colors has also changed over the years. Player numbers have alternated between white and purple several times, and whether they have a drop shadow or not has varied too. Along with the rest of the NBA, the Lakers' uniforms have also shifted to longer and looser shorts since the 1990s. According to Christopher Arena, an NBA vice president, this came from the league's deal with Champion, which allowed custom sizing.

The team has alternate colors

For years, the Lakers wore gold jerseys with purple highlights as their home uniform and purple jerseys with gold highlights when playing away from Los Angeles. It was a standard NBA rule for many years that home uniforms be white — the Lakers had an exemption. But in 2002, they added a white variant with gold and purple trim for use on Sundays and holidays, becoming the only team with an alternate home jersey.

After the NBA did away with home and away jerseys ahead of the 2017-18 season, their teams settled on four designated jersey designs: Icon, Association, Statement, Classic, and City. The first two must be worn for 10 games each per season, the Statement for six, and the last two for a combined three. Their Icon is the gold jersey; the Association, white; the Statement, purple; the Classic, white with blue numbers and gold trim; and the City, white with purple trim.

According to The Orange County Register, the new system has left some fans and players upset that the purple jersey is underused, but it's given the Lakers and other teams more flexibility with their look. Other variants still pop up from time to time; in 2013, the Lakers wore black and gold "Hollywood nights" uniforms for a game against the Brooklyn Nets.