In effort to aid the Los Angeles Lakers in creating salary cap space for their pursuit of Kawhi Leonard in free agency, Anthony Davis agreed to waive his $4 million trade kicker. The grand gesture was returned in some sense when LeBron James appeared poise to hand over No. 23.
James was expected to go back to wearing a No. 6 jersey, which he often practiced in this past season and wore during the Olympics and while with the Miami Heat. For Davis, it would mean keeping with the same jersey number he’s had since being selected with the top pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
However, the league has a March 15 deadline for players to submit a request to change jersey numbers, and Davis and James would only be able to move forward if they received permission from Nike.
The NBA’s official apparel licensor declined to accommodate the change because of the financial loss that would come with inventory of James’ No. 23 jerseys.
“That was pretty hurtful, to be honest,” Davis said at his introductory press conference. “Obviously we have rules, and the rule is by March 15 or something like that, that you have to make a request to change your number, so it is what it is.”
The process of deciding on a new jersey number was painful for the six-time All-Star and required help of his virtual reality self to make a decision. “They sent me a list of numbers and I didn’t know what to choose. None of them looked right,” Davis explained.
“So I went on 2K and threw numbers on me.”
He settled on No. 3, which Davis said is the first jersey number he’s ever worn, believing when he was in the seventh grade. “So when I saw that number was available, I kind of just wanted to take it all the way back to where I first started and put that number back on,” he said.
It’s presumed Davis and James will make their respective requests to change jersey numbers by the upcoming deadline so they may take effect for the 2020-21 NBA season.