Friday, November 13, 2009
In 1997 Major League Baseball retired #42 to honor Jackie Robinson, new players are no longer able to wear that number. Last night following the Cavaliers/Heat game LeBron announced that he will be switching from #23 to #6 after this season ends and is asking the to NBA retire #23 league wide.
He explains his reasoning as his way of showing respect to Michael Jordan, which seems pretty humbling: As LeBron put it “There would be no LeBron James, no Kobe Bryant, no Dwyane Wade if there wasn't Michael Jordan first.” On the surface this seems as a respectful offering from one of today’s top players, he sees how the history of the game has set the standard for today’s stars. LeBron wore #6 during international play and it has been rumored that he wears #6 in practice on occasion.
According to NBA rules LeBron has until March to formally request the jersey number change if he remains with Cleveland. If he signs with a new team he will be able to select any jersey number at that time. There are only about a dozen players in the NBA that wear #23 and so far one of them, the Suns Jason Richardson, has come out in full support of LeBron’s suggestion.
Would this be a wise decision for the NBA? History says, “Yes”. When Jordan came back wearing the #45, jersey sales increased, the same thing happened when Bryant switched from #24 to #8. This could turn out to be a positive for the card companies too. Collectors will be racing to pick up the new releases to get LeBron in his new jersey number. Upper Deck having the exclusive with LeBron could profit as well.