Lakers superstar LeBron James announces he will change his uniform from No. 6 to No. 23 next season “out of respect” for the late Bill Russell
- LeBron James has worn No. 23 for 13 of his 20 NBA seasons and will wear it again
- He’s giving up No. 6, which was retired league-wide in honor of Bill Russell.
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LeBron James has decided to change his uniform from No. 6 to No. 23 for next season as it honors the late, great Bill Russell.
James wore No. 6 for the Los Angeles Lakers last season, the jersey made famous by Russell, who died in July 2022, and when the NBA decided to retire the number league-wide, LeBron was among the active players to whom it was issued. allowed to continue using it. .
But now James is reverting to his old number 23, which he first wore in the NBA during his time with Cleveland, as his agent Rich Paul explained.
“It’s LeBron’s decision,” Paul told ESPN. He chose to do it out of respect for Bill Russell.
The decision to retire the league-wide No. 6 in Russell’s honor was a first in the NBA, but the timing of the decision made it difficult for teams to restock their stores with changed numbers, especially for a player as popular as LeBron.
LeBron James appears to have worn number 6 for the last time in his long and storied NBA career.
James will be donning No. 23 again this fall, after reverting to his previous number.
The NBA made a historic decision to retire No. 6 from the entire league to honor Bill Russell in 2022.
Speaking at the start of training camp last September, LeBron was asked about Russell and No. 6: “For us to lose such an icon, it was heartbreaking for all of us.”
‘I mean, it doesn’t matter if you play the game, watch the game or a part of the game. We all know what Bill Russell meant to the NBA, obviously also to the Celtics off the court, in terms of his heroism.
‘And what it meant for black people, to be able to talk about issues that are not comfortable.
‘To be able to wear the No. 6 this season, I’m not sure if I’ll continue to do so, but right now I’m going to wear it in his honor. It means a lot to me.’
James confirmed that he would be returning to the NBA while picking up an ESPY Award in Los Angeles last week.
Russell (center) is a Boston Celtics legend. He is pictured playing against the Knicks in 1966.
James has alternated between No. 6 and No. 23 throughout his career, but now it’s likely he’ll end up with the latter on his uniform.
He started with number 23 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, then first wore number 6 for Team USA, then picked it up again when he joined the Miami Heat, since they had already retired number 23 in honor of Michael Jordan.
James returned to No. 23 for his second stint in Cleveland, in addition to his first two seasons in Los Angeles, before returning to No. 6 for the past three years with the Lakers.
In total, James has worn the No. 23 for 13 of his 20 seasons, and it will become 14 of 21 this fall.