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LeBron James files to switch jersey numbers out of MJ respect

Mar 1, 2010, 10:45 PM EDT

LeBron James is good to his word.

James said earlier in the season that he would change his number (#23) out of respect for Michael Jordan after he entered the Hall of Fame. Tonight Brian Windhorst reports that James has filed for that change to be effective next season.

James is switching to #6, which was his Olympic number and the day his first son was born.

James won’t benefit directly from the sales, but it does kind of suck for the millions and millions of Cleveland fans that bought his #23 jersey. Of course, it won’t be as big of a problem if it’s for a different city…

Just kiddin’!

  1. Ossie - Mar 2, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    James changes his number out of respect for Michael Jordan?? Please! This is nothing but a marketing ploy. He saw Kobe switch his number and instead of wanting to be like Mike, he really wants to be like Kobe! Despite all the praise the media showers Lebron with – it’s Kobe’s jersey that remains the # 1 selling jersey in the NBA. Despite the MVP awards – and he’s likely to get # 2 this season, it’s Kobe winning the championships and the Finals MVP – and he’s likely to get # 5 and # 2 respectively this season! Despite the accolades that ESPN and TNT and every other network give to Lebron as the ‘best player in the league’, despite all the stat sheets that he fills up every time he steps on to the court (he’s a walking triple-double threat) – it’s the true fans and students of the game and the NBA players themselves who will tell you unequivocally that the best and most feared player in the game – resides in LA. The ‘debate’ makes for good television, but if we’re honest with ourselves, there’s no debate!
    During this whole free-agent courtship, Lebron has shown his true colours. He’s all about getting praise and needing to feel wanted and revered. His open flirtation with New York every chance he gets is a slap in the face to the Cleveland faithful. But – it’s marketing. It’s also about dethroning Kobe – being the best. Being the most popular. He figures, if I change my jersey, I’m bound to have the leading selling jersey next year! And you know what, maybe he will. Maybe he will once again win the marketing battle with Kobe – but for Kobe, only one thing matters – the rings! That’s why 8 + 24, will always be greater than 23 + 6! Ask any NBA player that…

  2. Rip - Mar 2, 2010 at 9:40 AM

    All Kobe fans say LeBron gets all the hype, and all LeBron fans say Kobe gets it. Just sounds like more whining.
    As far as LeBron showing his “true colors”, don’t forget when Saint Kobe helped run off Shaq, Phil Jackson, and started his own bizarre rants about getting out of LA. He’s not always shown his fans love.
    And as far as changing his number…he’s tired of being the next 23. Might as well have your own number when you go down as this generation’s greatest of all times.

  3. anonymous - Mar 2, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    shut your mouth. obviously ur a Kobe bryant fan and you’re just hatin on lebron. you dont know for a fact if its all marketing you ignorant fool. how can you not say that lebron isnt feared? are you kidding me. kobe and lebron are BOTH the best and most feared players. its not just one of the 2.

  4. Anonymous - Mar 2, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    Oh you’re absolutely right about Kobe dissing Laker fans when he openly flirted with the Clippers. Everyone knew that – no one tried to dress it up. In Lebron’s case – call it what it is. I think people are growing tired of TV talking heads and the like, categorizing everything Lebron does as admirable. His team is blowing out another team, and Lebron is breakdancing on the sidelines. The talking heads call it ‘Lebron’s joy of the game – having fun!’ No! It’s being disrespectful. He flirts with New York and uses every opportunity he can to talk about his love for the Big Apple and the media says ‘He’s handled questions regarding his free agency very well.’ No! He’s openly trying to soak up the praise and dissing Cleveland in the process.’ Now this talk of retiring his jersey out of respect for Jordan. Please. Even Jordan called him out on it during his HOF acceptance weekend – saying it’s nice and all, but Lebron is probably doing it as a way to sell more jerseys. And that’s my point – call it what it is.

  5. brutus - Mar 2, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    I love the rhetoric that there is “no debate” on Kobe v LBJ. As if LeBron doesn’t score in the same league as Kobe, has less assists than Kobe, less rebounds than Kobe and probably can’t hold a candle to Kobe’s defense. Yeah, right. Both are great players and the tops today, so the debate is real, whether KB fans like it or not. It’s just funny to hear them make the scientific claims “no debate” like it’s some proven fact.
    Then there’s always the “rings” argument. If that’s the bottom line, then Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman kick Kobe’s arse as the greatest cuz he’s only about a third of the way to each of those guys’ ring totals apeice!! How many of you would concede that they are Kobe’s superior?? By the ring argument you have to! Rings are great, but that’s not the end all to an argument like this. (BTW… then Kareem can’t even compare to Bill Russell either!!)
    They showed on ESPN the other day after Kobe’s 3pt buzzer beater that in the last 5 years of making the winning basket in 1 possession games that Kobe is now at 24 second to LBJ at 25. I always read where people throw out that Kobe has way more game winners than LeBron, but statistically they’re full of it.
    Rhetoric is great, but don’t let facts ruin a good argument. Both those guys are great, and there is plenty of room for debate. Get over it Ossie, etal…

  6. Dustin - Mar 2, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    Why show respect to guy who is very disrespectful. Respect is earned both on and off the court, Michael has shown himself wanting in this category.

  7. OldSchooler - Mar 2, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    I guess I’m confused about Lebron’s number issues. I think he kinda overstepped himself when he called for the whole league to retire number 23. Nobody really seemed to buy into that idea. Despite all the hype, there are some people, people who really know basketball, who are not so quick to say that Jordan was so much better than all the other greats. Sure, he belongs right there with the other all-time greats, but it’s not like he’s on a throne and the rest are just part of his court. Not at all. Jordan’s Bulls just came along during a time when there wasn’t that much parity in the league, hence the 6 titles. And Jordan himself just came along at a time when he could become not only the best guard of his era but also the greatest hyped athlete of all time. The guy was on TV more than Geico commercials. I think a lot of the youngsters today who sing Jordan’s praises are suffering from Space Jam syndrome. You guys watched that movie as kids so much that you kind of lost site of the non-cartoon aspects of basketball. Again, in an effort to stave off the death-threat phone calls, I’m not saying he wasn’t one of the greatest. But Bill (Russell) won more rings. Which is why I’m confused about Lebron’s decision. Number 6 was not only Russell’s number but also Doc’s. If 23 is off-limits, shouldn’t 6 also be untouchable? As far as small forwards go, I’d have to pick Doc over Lebron, even if nobody else around agrees with me. A lot of people today don’t realize the impact that Doc had on the game. With over 30,000 points (ABA+NBA), Doc did things on the court that no one else has ever done. Doc was the single reason that the ABA and the NBA merged. Lebron is an amazing player, without question. But the fans at this year’s All-Star game made it clear, from the volume of their cheers, that they know that he has a ways to go yet before he is at Kobe’s level. He just needs to focus a little more on the basketball details and a little less on the media. He’ll get there.

  8. Raj - Mar 2, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    Ossie, all LeBron needs to do now if cheat on his girlfriend/wife and he’ll be just like Kobe, right.

  9. Raj - Mar 2, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    Ossie, all LeBron needs to do now is cheat on his girlfriend/wife and he’ll be just like Kobe, right.

  10. WW - Mar 2, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Almost… he’ll have to make a public apology :)

  11. Jim C. - Mar 2, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    Mr. James needs an education. If the switch is about respect, then #6 is off limits. That was the number worn by Bill Russell, the greatest WINNER in the history of major American sports.

  12. B. L. - Mar 2, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    I see him (LJ) as a young guy whose personal basketball history doesn’t go back far enough to get the HUGE impact that Russel was. Maybe in a few years he’ll see that too, then change his number to 32 or 33? Hahaha.

  13. Chip - Mar 2, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    Uh-oh . . . NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell’s jersey was #6. LeBron’s discontinuance of #23 out of respect for Jordan now transfers what–disrespect–for another of the game’s greatest in Russell? Better do some more jersey number research, LeBron, and choose one that doesn’t disrespect anyone in the Hall, if that’s possible or even necessary.

  14. BlueStateRep - Mar 2, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    Number six is perfect. It’ll look great in purple and gold when LeBron comes to the Big Stage in LA! And all u Laker haters – don’t hate, just congratulate.
    And yes Kobe messed up. A lot of human beings do. And since we are not privy to his rectifications, how about we stick to basketball.
    peace in the middle east

  15. NIck Tomasek - Mar 2, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    Change out of respect….What a joke. Most people wear numbers to pay homage to players they respect. For him to change to # 6 which was worn by the likes of Bill Russell and Dr J seems counterproductive.

  16. bigrafa - Mar 2, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    Respect for Jordan, but NOTHING for Russell or Erving?
    ANd this guy was SUPPOSED to know something about the histroy of his sport.
    What a clown.

  17. Bino - Mar 2, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    Saying that Jordan is not the greatest ever is ridiculous. During Jordan’s era he had to compete against more bonafide hall of fame players night in and night out than in any other era. When they named the 50 greatest players of all time, 85% of them were from Jordan’s era. Today’s era is where things are lacking. There just is not the same skill level from team to team of high caliber players like there were in Jordan’s time. So please don’t try to take anything from Jordan. True Bill Russell had 9 rings (great accomplishment)but he was not exactly going up against a young Shaq, Olajuwan or Ewing. So lets please compare apples to apples. As far as the Kobe vs LeBron debate, I think it is too soon to crown a champ. Kobe’s team’s have been far superior to any of LeBron’s teams. The Lakers bench could probably start on a different squad. Therefore Kobe should be winning rings. I think LeBron retiring the number is out of respect for MJ but maybe it’s not. Who cares? I am not buying either one of there jerseys. Holla!

  18. Wake Up!! - Mar 2, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    Lebron is BAR NONE the best player in the NBA, which also means the world! Kobe is a great scorer, in fact among the greatest. Unfortunately that is all that kobe sees, the basket. Lebron has a full understanding of ALL aspects of the game of Basketball and if he wanted to he could step out on the floor on almost ANY night and ring up a triple double. Kobe can’t impose a triple double on his opponents on any given night like Lebron can. Face the music Kobe lovers of the world: Bryant is in decline, his nagging injuries this season have made this painfully obvious. While Lebron is on the rise! Every player in the NBA fears the footsteps of Lebron in transition, because the sound of those footsteps is the sound of their shot about to get slapped from behind! AMAZING!!

  19. ticc - Mar 2, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    all of ou shut you mouth! It not about “numbers” , its about respect,integrity and excellent sportsmanship. Kobe may be the most hyped player now. However, LeBron also has his own thing going on.

  20. Anonymous - Mar 2, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    kobe is a snitch

  21. Koolazzleek - Mar 2, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    Ossie, all LeBron needs to do now is cheat on his girlfriend/wife and he’ll be just like Kobe, right.

  22. Jorge - Mar 2, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    @ Ossie, Although Kobe is the better player right now, He has had 14 triple / doubles in his 12 year career. While James has had 18 triple / doubles in a 5 year career. Advantage Lebron! I only point this out because you stated Kobe was a potential triple / double threat every night. It would appear to me that James would be more of a triple / double threat every night than Kobe. There are many other arguments that can be made while comparing these two extraordinary atheletes. The triple / double would not be one of those arguments for Kobe. I’m just saying.

  23. peec2fengaz - Mar 2, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    good point..the funny thing is nobody has ever brought that point up(about russell’s number)…you are going to sell’s a business..let’s not forget this

  24. Clippers BWagon - Mar 2, 2010 at 2:17 PM

    Jordan elevated the game to a new level. Not to show disrespect to the awesomeness of Bill Russel, Dr. J, Wilt, Magic, Cousy, Bird or any of the other greats who have played this game in the past; but nobody elevated the game and the NBA to the level that Jordan did. Kids in Africa stopped to watch Air soar in for a dunk, interest in Asia and the Eastern Bloc gained strength on the prowess of MJ’s cunning drives and showstopping performances in the Olympics and the finals that followed. He was the King of the World, unless you forget, defining what we now know as “showtime” and igniting fervor and passion in portions of the world who barely knew the game before him. He broke the decades long coastal domination by the Lakers and the Celtics and brought championships to Middle America. His performances were heart-stopping, inspiring and mesmerizing, and most of all, Lebron ACTUALLY saw him play, unlike Russell, so it’s no wonder he has more respect for the man.
    He was an all-star, a superstar, and an ambassador of the game. And if anyone should ever have their number retired in the NBA it’s him — the game today is what it is because of Michael Jordan. Just ask Kobe or Lebron.

  25. TBurke - Mar 2, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    LBJ is a dope. Does anyone really care what number he chooses? More importantly, does MJ care? I doubt it. On top of that, he picks Bill Russell’s number? Perhaps he should learn to do a little research before ne opens his pie hole.

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