The All-Time Greatest Los Angeles Lakers Sneaker Colourways
When you see purple and gold, most people think of the Los Angeles Lakers. With 17 NBA championships and the numbers of Hall-of-Famers from Magic Johnson to the late Kobe Bryant hanging from their rafters, the Lakers have risen steadily to become a world-renowned brand – so it’s no wonder their colours are worn all around the globe.
As the team battles the Denver Nuggets in the 2023 Western Conference Finals, we thought we’d pay homage to the legendary franchise with a round-up of the best Los Angeles Lakers colourways to hit sneakers throughout the years.
Debuted at NBA All-Star Weekend in 1986, the Converse Weapon arrived at the perfect time. The sneaker was dressed in an all-leather build featuring white on the base beneath purple and gold overlays and would go on to become Converse’s most popular sneaker of the 80s.
As the Lakers and Celtics rivalry was at an all-time high during the 80s, and with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird both being Converse athletes at the time, Converse jumped on the opportunity to collaborate. The ‘Choose Your Weapon’ ad spotlighted the long-standing adversaries against one another, each holding their respective colourways of the Weapon, well, like a weapon. Since then, the Converse Weapon has been synonymous with Magic and Bird and the infamous Lakers/Celtics rivalry.
New Balance P790
When the Showtime Lakers are brought up, it’s Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s names that typically dominate the conversation – but real fans know that ‘Big Game’ James Worthy was integral to the team’s championship run. The 1988 Finals MVP had a deal with New Balance, and he wore the New Balance P790 alongside his signature goggles on court.
New Balance brought the sneaker back in 2010, and to be honest, with the success of the NB 550 and 650, we wouldn’t be mad about a retro in 2023.
adidas EQT Elevation/Crazy 97 ‘Dunk Contest’
In 1997, an 18-year-old Lakers rookie named Kobe Bryant hit the scene and went on to make a name for himself at that year’s NBA Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend in Cleveland. Young Kobe wore the adidas EQT Elevation in a purple colourway on his road to win the contest.
adidas’ Feet You Wear technology was at the forefront of the EQT Elevation and was designed to mimic the natural shape and curves of the foot, bringing rounded edges and outriggers for stability and protection.
Now named the adidas Crazy 97, the Three Stripes have brought back the sneaker in the purple colourway a few times – most recently to align with the All-Star Game returning to Cleveland in 2022.
adidas Kobe 1/Crazy 1 ‘Lakers’
The adidas Kobe 1 was the sneaker Bryant wore during the first championship of the 3-peat in 2000. This shoe’s design was inspired by the Audi TT and incorporated the colours of the Lakers’ Sunday whites. The Three Stripes appear debossed on the medial and lateral sides, with gold seen on the mesh lining.
Now named the adidas Crazy 1, the polarising sneaker has returned a few times – most recently in 2022.
Reebok Question ‘Yellow Toe’
During Kobe’s sneaker free agency period, he was seen wearing a variety of brands from game to game. As a result, the brands dressed their sneakers in purple and gold, including Allen Iverson’s first signature sneaker: the Reebok Question.
White leather makes up the majority of the shoe, with gold placed on the toecap and heel and purple hits seen throughout. Although seemingly a strange choice at the time, seeing as Kobe and Iverson were rivals, there’s always been mutual respect between the two. The sneaker was set to drop in Lakers colours for the first time in 2020, but Reebok shelved the release until 2023 after Kobe’s passing.
Nike Air Max Uptempo 95
Say ‘0.4 seconds’ to any Lakers (or Spurs) fan, and they’ll immediately bring up Derek Fisher. Alongside his signature headband look, Fisher was known to rock the Nike Air Max Uptempo 95. Originally released in 1995, Nike brought back the sneaker in 2002, with Fisher rocking a Lakers-themed PE. White leather makes up the upper of this shoe, with Lakers gold seen on the overlays and Swoosh, while purple trim appears throughout.
Nike brought the Lakers colourway to the public for the first time in 2019, alongside another Fisher PE in 2015 that swapped out the gold for a purple back.
Air Jordan 3/Air Jordan 8 ‘Kobe Pack’
It’s no secret that Kobe idolised Michael Jordan, so it makes sense he’d don the Jumpman on his feet during his free agency period. An array of Air Jordans were rocked on court, but the Air Jordan 3 and Air Jordan 8 PEs were the standouts.
The black and red hues of the Chicago Bulls were replaced with Lakers purple and gold on both sneakers.
In celebration of Kobe’s career, Jordan Brand blessed friends and family with the ‘Kobe Pack’ in 2016 when he retired, which featured the Air Jordan Lakers PEs.
éS Koston 3
Regarded as one of the greatest skateboarders of all time, Eric Koston is also a die-hard Lakers fan and a sneakerhead. During his tenure with éS Skateboarding, Koston was hands-on in the design process and would bring other sneakers he wanted to take influence from to the design team.
Though the éS and Koston have dropped Laker-themed colourways prior, the Koston 3 was the standout of the bunch and drew heavy influence from the Air Jordan 12 and its panelling. The Sunday White theme shines through on this sneaker, and with purple and gold hits featured alongside éS and Koston branding throughout, this colourway’s influence comes through loud and clear.
Nike Zoom Kobe 1 ‘81 Point Game’
On a lazy Sunday afternoon in 2006, Kobe Bryant dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors, only second behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100. Memorable performances or moments in sports are a staple of storytelling for sneaker brands, and this was no different.
Although a PE at the time, this Nike Zoom Kobe 1 instantly became the ‘81 Point Game’ colourway. Nike brought the colourway to the masses in 2019 in Protro (Performance Retro) form, installing new tech and upgrading performance aspects of the sneaker.
Nike Kobe 4 ‘Carpe Diem’
Although Nike had success with the Kobe line, the whole performance basketball market was disrupted when the Nike Kobe 4 came out. Kobe wanted the lightest basketball sneaker ever, and the Eric Avar-designed Kobe 4 shook things up in low-top form. Kobe’s soccer background also greatly influenced the design, as he wanted more ankle mobility without sacrificing the stability needed for a basketball shoe.
The first Nike signature sneaker to feature Flywire and Lunar cushioning, the Kobe 4 took off and became a hit from the jump. The ‘Carpe Diem’ colourway dropped in 2009 in limited numbers, bringing the Lakers’ ‘Hollywood Nights’ look to the sneaker. Dressed in a stealthy black with hits of purple and gold, the ‘Carpe Diem’ features Kobe’s Black Mamba moniker on the sneaker’s faux snakeskin toebox and heel overlay.
The sneaker returned in Protro form in 2019, but not without controversy. In their press release, Nike stated that the Protro version had full-length Zoom Air when in reality, it just had a Zoom unit in the heel like the original. Didn’t stop fans from buying the sneaker, though – they flew off shelves and are still seen on court four years later.
Nike LeBron 7 ‘Media Day’
Entering his second year with the Lakers, LeBron James showed up to Media Day wearing a Lakers-themed colourway of the Nike LeBron 7. The Jason Petrie-designed sneaker hadn’t seen a retro at the time, and fans were salivating after seeing this mismatched pair. Laker Gold features on the left shoe with purple on the right, and a white patent leather rand surrounds the sneaker.
The sneaker would eventually release in 2020 in men’s and grade school sizing.
Nike SB x Air Jordan 1 ‘LA to Chicago’
Taking it off the hardwood and onto the streets, Nike SB and Jordan Brand joined forces in 2019 to drop two iterations of the Nike SB x Air Jordan 1. Alongside the ‘NYC to Paris’ colourway, the ‘LA to Chicago’ edition features the Lakers’ purple and gold that wears away into the Chicago colourway. Zoom Air equips the sneaker’s insole for impact protection while skating and a black outsole finishes off the sneaker.
For more Jumpman round-ups, check out this ‘Chicago’ colourway corral.