Back in February, we touched on the news that LeBron James was considering making a change in terms of his jersey number. The discussion revolved around his number with the Cavaliers, 23, and his number in the Olympics, 6. This morning, it appears that this decision has been made and would take effect next season.
When we dove in to why James would make the move, the obvious answer was the marketing.
TD wrote, “Changing to #6 would sell a whole host of new jerseys and enhance his already gigantic popularity. I would say it was a brilliant move if Kobe Bryant hadn’t thought of it first. When Kobe went from #8 to #24, his new jersey shot to the top of the most-sold list ahead of Lebron, who at the time was numero uno.”
This time around, however, it appears – at least per James – that the decision is based on his idol Michael Jordan. James is starting a movement that would give Jordan the Jackie Robinson treatment, retiring the number across the entire league.
“[Jordan] can’t get the logo, and if he can’t, something has to be done. I feel like no NBA player should wear 23. I’m starting a petition, and I’ve got to get everyone in the NBA to sign it. Now, if I’m not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it.”
James has a bevy of reasons for choosing No. 6, ranging from the abovementioned Olympic jersey. His current practice jersey is No. 6, and there are several family-related reasons for his No. 6 preference.
Tom Ziller at NBA FanHouse lists the players whom James would have to convince to abandon the No. 23. This list encompasses some bigger names like Jason Richardson and Kevin Martin, ranging all the way to rookie shooting guard Toney Douglas and former Cavalier Devin Brown.
Do not be surprised if some media outlet chooses to take the angle that James is announcing this movement because the No. 23 is retired in a few other select cities (specifically, Miami, Chicago and New Jersey) so James would inherently be “simply laying the groundwork” for a forthcoming change.
Circling back, this is bound to be big on several fronts – as it seems to be the case with anything James does or says. It would not surprise me if this leads to a watershed event that allows high school and college players to wear numbers with a digit above five. Ron Artest may not get younger kids to want to wear No. 93 or No. 37, but James definitely has the appeal to make kids want to wear No. 6.
For now, the No. 23 Cavaliers jersey will continue to float around the top of the list in terms of sales. One can only imagine that the No. 6 will do the same by this time next season.