It’s the biggest comeback in LeBron James’ career. Okay, maybe not the biggest, but it’s always noticeable when one of the biggest stars in the league changes her jersey number.
Ahead of his fourth season with the Lakers, James revealed he would drop No.23 in favor of No.6. The quadruple NBA MVP started his professional career with the Cavaliers wearing the No.23 and then moved on to No. 6 when he played for the 2010-14 Heat. After winning a few championships in Miami, James released number 23 for his second stint in Cleveland and stayed with him in Los Angeles.
MORE: James opens up about Lakers’ ‘energy change’ after 2020-21 ‘victim’ season
So what prompted James to bring back No.6? And why is the number so important to him?
The story behind LeBron James’ change to No.6
James wanted to change his jersey number in 2019 when the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis from the Pelicans in a successful trade. James even posted a photo of Davis holding a No.23 jersey once the deal was finalized. Davis wore the number for his first seven NBA seasons.
Unfortunately for James and Davis, the exchange had to wait as Nike, the league’s official equipment supplier, reportedly took a “massive financial blow” due to the amount of clothing already produced. With Nike not giving the Lakers stars the green light, Davis landed at No.3 (He chose to stick with that number after winning his first NBA championship in 2020.)
But James’ change was always more than just doing his teammate a favor.
Asked about his thought process about switching to number 6, James told reporters last week that the number has “always been a part of me.” Her first child, Bronny, was born on October 6, and her second child, Bryce, was born in June, the sixth month of the year. Beyond his personal connection, James has already expressed his admiration for Julius Erving, who wore number 6 with the 76ers.
“Six means a lot to me, not only from my family and numbers and things of that nature to what I believe in and things like that – but my mindset doesn’t change,” Jacques said. “Go out, be a general basketball player, try to dominate in all facets of the game, be a great teammate and be a great leader.”
As The Athletic’s Tim Cato noted, the timing also matched perfectly with the summer release of “Space Jam: A New Legacy”, which featured James in a # 6 Tune Squad jersey.
LeBron James’ story with # 6 and # 23
James wore jersey # 23 at St. Vincent – St. Mary High School and continued to ride with her after being selected by the Cavs with the first pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. James has often cited the NBA’s most famous number 23, Michael Jordan, as a source of ‘inspiration.
“When I first started playing basketball I was like, ‘Oh man, that looks good. I want to be able to fly like him. I want to be able to shoot like him. I want to be able to dunk on someone like him. want to be able to stick my tongue out like him in the air and scream in the face of someone like MJ, ”James said in 2019.
“So ever since I started playing ball I wore No. 23.”
In his seventh season at Cleveland, James said every NBA player wearing the number 23 should drop him out of respect for Jordan.
“I just think what Michael Jordan has done for the game needs to be recognized very soon”, Jacques said in 2009. “There would be no LeBron James, no Kobe Bryant, no Dwyane Wade if it hadn’t been for Michael Jordan first. He can’t get the logo, and if he doesn’t can’t, something needs to be done.as no NBA player should wear a 23.
“I’m starting a petition and I have to get everyone in the NBA signed. Now if I don’t wear number 23 then no one else should be able to wear it.”
James moved up to No.6 after signing with the Heat, and he continued to wear that number on his training uniform even after donning No.23 as a member of the Cavs and Lakers. The move was a nod to another childhood hero of James, Deion Sanders, who wore number 21 during games but number 2 in practice.
Outside of NBA competitions, James wore number 6 at several Olympic Games.
LeBron James Career Stats: No.6 vs. No.23
|Number 6||By game||No. 23|
|37||3 points %||34|
|76||Free throw %||73|
|62.2||% actual fire||57.7|