WVU Volleyball's Blog

Should 23 be gone forever?

Posted on: March 2, 2010

Michael Jordan doing an infamous dunk while wearing his famous number 23.

This past Wednesday, Lebron James filed paperwork with the NBA to officially have his NBA number changed from 23 to 6. This is all stemming from a November statement that James made. James claimed that all current NBA players should give up number 23 forever to pay tribute to Michael Jordan.  This claim was also after a Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat game where Jordan was sitting in the front row watching and supporting the Heat’s Dwayne Wade who had just joined his shoe line. James has claimed the Jordan was his idol and onlookers at the game claimed that James kept looking at Jordan for some sign of approval throughout the game, but Jordan gave him nothing. With all that happening, it is no surprise that James made this statement after the game because it looks like he was looking for the approval and even a little bit of acknowledgment from the man he admired so much. Since the statement had been made, everyone was looking for James to make the first step and he finally did. But, is this jersey change all for Jordan or is it for James’ personal gain?

Lebron James poses for a promotional shot with his Olympic Jersey.

Although James claims that this is all just to pay homage to Jordan, his talk does not fool me. Like all NBA superstars, James has a ginormous ego and cares only about himself. Jordan made a brand for himself  from the number 23 and if James wants to follow in the same footsteps, he can’t necessarily build an empire with the same number. If anything, this is just an extremely smart business move for James. As much as Lebron would like to honor his first born son, I don’t necessarily think that is what important to NBA superstar who wants to make an everlasting name for himself in the NBA and in the world. It has also been claimed that James is chasing after Kobe Bryant. Bryant changed his number from 8 to 24 after the 2006-2007 NBA because it was the first number he started out with in high school in Pennsylvania. That I see as a reasonable claim because 24 was not available when Bryant joined the Lakers and a player must be with a team for at least four years to make a petition to change his number. The number was available and it had been four years but ever since then, Bryant has been the leading money getter in jersey selling. Now, I don’t think James is too happy about that, so just maybe this will give James that boost to be the number 1.

The other question, is Lebron being even a little bit considerate of all the other NBA greats who wore the number 6. The biggest argument is for Bill Russell who has 11 NBA championships, 5 more than Jordan. A prominent African-American player who led the way for players like Jordan. So the question is, if we retire Jordan’s jersey throughout the NBA, shouldn’t we retire every other great player’s jersey? Jordan was not the only great player to ever go through the NBA, so why should we single him out? What about Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who wore the number 32? Larry Bird and 33? Jerry West and 44? If I keep going, we will run out of numbers and nobody would have a number to wear. Lebron just needs to drop the act and move on. We will accept his new number 6 and we will forget about his rant in about a month.

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