LOS ANGELES – It was 20 years ago, at the start of a new millennium, when by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal won their first NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers. Jeff Hamilton was the man who presented to them special leather championship jackets in the locker room right after the victory.
“They put on the jacket and they feel like right away, they are the champions,” said Hamilton.
It’s kinda like getting ring but with instant gratification.
He then designed the championship jacket in 2001, and again for the three-peat in 2002.
Years later, there was one more jacket for Kobe’s final title in 2010. Hamilton’s work has been captured in some of the most iconic images in NBA history, and he himself has become a part of NBA history.
“I’m in the locker room. The champagne is pouring over my jackets. I mean those are very expensive jackets,” Hamilton explained.
“The champagne is all over. It was always amazing – like a little kid.”
The jackets have become a legacy of their own. Wiz Khalifa wore the three-peat piece while performing on a night the Lakers remembered Kobe
It all started with Hamilton’s friendship with Magic Johnson, leading him to designing all six of Michael Jordan’s championship jackets. It then grew to pop culture, designing for Mike Tyson, Selena, Michael Jackson, and most recently a jacket honoring the late Nipsey Hussle.
“Some of the OG rappers wrote songs about me,” Hamilton said.
He inscribes all of his work and has already sent this year’s championship jackets for LeBron and Anthony Davis to the bubble in Orlando. But you can’t see it yet because it’s top secret.
“I’m not showing that yet.”
With one more win we all will see his latest work, 20 years after the start of the Lakers dynasty.