Sports fans in Los Angeles were dealt a blow when LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers were ushered out of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. But the Akron native has shown that where others see failure, he sees an opportunity for change—making his change from No. 23 to No. 6 on his uniform an important milestone in his career.
According to ESPN, James will don No. 6 for the 2021-22 season, while his teammate Anthony Davis will stay with No. 3, the number he wore when he won the championship in 2020. James first wore No. 6 in international competition for Team USA and later wore it for the four seasons he played for the Miami Heat because the organization had already retired No. 23 in honor of Michael Jordan.
Originally, James had planned the number change with Anthony Davis, but missed the March deadline to declare a jersey change. Nike, who sponsors the jersey with the NBA, denied the NBA from approving the change because of the amount of No. 23 jerseys still on the market. Sources note that now James has filed for approval, made the deadline, and Nike has or will begin the process of the changeover.
Although James’ choice of No. 23 was influenced by Jordan, he later remarked that No. 6 was inspired by NBA Hall of Famers’ Bill Russell and Julius “Dr. J” Erving, who both wore the number. James has continued to wear No. 6 since
winning two championships with Miami—on his practice uniform while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers and in L.A. The dual number decision, according to James, was a nod to Deion Sanders, who wore his collegiate No. 2 on his practice jersey but played in No. 21 for most of his NFL career.
The Lakers star already created a stir about the jersey change, citing his upcoming battle against the Goon Squad in Space Jam: A New Legacy as a small promotional bid, as noted by The Athletic, which first reported James’ jersey change.