LeBron James Is Reportedly Set To Return To Wearing No. 6
For the second time in his storied NBA career, LeBron James is going to change his number. This will also be the second time that LeBron has reverted to using a number he had used before. During LeBron’s first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the then-budding superstar sported the No. 23 that the legendary Michael Jordan made famous during his playing days with the Chicago Bulls.
When LeBron left Cleveland the first time, he switched to wearing No. 6, because of the fact that the Heat have retired No. 23 in honor of Michael Jordan. After spending a few successful years with the Miami Heat, LeBron returned to Cleveland and also returned to wearing 23. He kept 23 when he left Cleveland for the second time and joined the Los Angeles Lakers wearing his classic number.
When the Lakers take to the court for the 2021-22 season, LeBron won’t be wearing 23 anymore. Instead, he’ll reportedly be wearing No. 6 for the second time in his career.
According to The Athletic’s Tim Cato, one of the motivations behind this latest number change for LeBron is that this is a move that he actually wanted to make when Anthony Davis joined the Lakers ahead of the 2019-20 season. James wanted to give his No. 23 to Davis, who was accustomed to wearing that number. Instead, Nike NKE stepped in and declared that the number change would’ve been too costly since they had already made plenty of merchandise and apparel with the No. 23 on it. Cato went on to report that the change was delayed for another season because of “complications” arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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So basically, this is a change that’s been in the making for two years now. Thanks to LeBron being able to give Nike a fair amount of prior notice before making the change and things getting better in the United States as the pandemic continues, the number change is set to go off without a hitch now. Any questions surrounding what number Anthony Davis would be wearing for the 2021-22 season were answered very quickly. As it turns out, Davis won’t be taking his usual No. 23 number now that it’s been vacated. According to Lakers beat writer Bill Oram, Davis is apparently on track to getting his Lakers No. 3 number retired at some point in the future. So instead of complicating things by going to a number that is also likely going to be retired by the Lakers in the future, Davis is going to stick with a number that he has established an identity in.
However, the over-arching motivation behind the number change has to be the idea of making a pretty penny in jersey sales. LeBron James has routinely been at the top of the NBA jersey sales leaderboards since establishing himself as a superstar in the league, and there have been plenty of opportunities to buy a plethora of jerseys with LeBron’s name on the back and whatever number he happens to be wearing at the time.
During his two stints with the Cavaliers and his lone stint with the Heat, the teams and uniform designers took advantage of LeBron’s powerhouse jersey sales by routinely rolling out alternate and throwback jerseys. The amount of different jerseys that LeBron has sported only went up when he joined the Lakers and Nike started releasing new alternate uniforms for each team every season. By my count, LeBron has worn at least 40 different uniform designs during his career.
That number will increase by at least six new uniforms now that LeBron is going back to wearing No. 6. The Association, Icon, and Statement uniform designs will likely remain the same, but they will be new for LeBron on his own since he’ll have a new number. Additionally, the Lakers will have brand-new City, Classic, and Earned uniforms for 2021-22. If you happen to be a LeBron James jersey collector, then you may just have one of the most expensive collection hobbies out there.
For the time being, LeBron appears to be sticking with No. 6 from here on out. He’ll be wearing the single-digit number on his back when he throws on the Tune Squad uniform for Space Jam: A New Legacy and he’ll be wearing it for the Lakers going forward. If you prefer to see LeBron wearing No. 23, then you’ll have to somehow find a way to get a glimpse of him wearing it during practice, since that number will likely be relegated to practice jersey status — similar to how he wore No. 6 during practice while wearing No. 23 for games. Everything is truly cyclical.