It's hard to disassociate famous sports stars from the numbers they made famous. We're talking legendary digits here, like Wayne Gretzky with 99, Babe Ruth's number 3, or the NBA's Austin Croshere's 44. Of course there's always Michael Jordan's 23, a number that LeBron James picked up when he was in the league and became a mega star and earned four NBA championships in the process. So why did he change his jersey number?
Why did LeBron James change his Jersey number?
The Athletic reports that LeBron had wanted to change his number some two summers ago right around the time Anthony Davis joined the Los Angeles Lakers. That was apparently delayed because Nike had already produced a bunch of Jerseys with LeBron's number 23 already on it, and to create a whole bunch of new uniforms would cost too much.
The second delay came at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which apparently delayed jersey production even further. So why is his number all of a sudden changing now?
Well, the outlet goes on to report that the No. 6 jersey change just so happens to line up with the release of LeBron and Warner Bros.' Space Jam: A New Legacy film.
So why is LeBron rocking the number 6 in the movie? Is it a head nod to the fact that Michael Jordan earned six championship rings? Or maybe the Tune Squad retired MJ's number after he miraculously defeated the Monstars with the help of the lovable cartoon critters?
In fact, it's neither of those reasons.
LeBron actually rocked a number 6 when he switched over to the Miami Heat in 2010, a decision at the time he received a lot of "Heat" for. This served a dual purpose according to Lakers beat writer Bill Oram: It was to respect Michael Jordan, whose number 23 was retired by the Heat, and to honor another NBA great — Julius Erving. It's worth mentioning as well that LeBron also wore the number 6 in the three Olympic games he participated in.
LeBron's numbers change with Anthony Davis would've resulted in tens of millions of dollars in losses for Nike.
LeBron was going to welcome Davis to the Lakers with the number; however, again, it would've been way too costly of a change to enact. LeBron's request also came well after the league's March 15 deadline for number change requests.
NBA fans who've closely followed James' and Davis' careers should know that the change has been planned for quite some time now. When Davis was officially made a Laker, LeBron uploaded a photo of the big man holding a Lakers jersey rocking the number 23 on it.
The Los Angeles Lakers had their 2021 playoffs run cut short by the Phoenix Suns. LeBron received a ton of criticism for "giving up" in a pivotal playoff series game after his teammate Dennis Schroder missed a layup with a minute and 30 seconds left in the fourth period and the Lakers were down by seven points. Many argued that that was more than enough time for the Lakers to tie the game or even take a lead.
LeBron took his time to get back on defense and by the time he arrived it was too late. Jae Crowder sunk a three-pointer which gave the Suns a 10-point lead.