Lakers News: LeBron James Changing Jersey Number Out Of Respect For Bill Russell
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Like many other greats, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has worn two different numbers throughout his career and on the team: 6 and 23.

James wore No. 23 in both stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but went to No. 6 while with the Miami Heat. After putting 23 back on to win a title in his first three seasons with the Lakers, LeBron has worn six for the last two in L.A.

After the passing of NBA legend Bill Russell last year though, the NBA decided to retire the No. 6 across the league. James and others who already had the number were still welcome to wear it, and all did for the 2022-23 season.

It appears James is making another change back to 23 though for the 2023-24 season out of respect for Russell, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

James has consistently led the league in jersey sales throughout the course of his career, and that will likely be the case again in 2023-24 now that he is switching numbers.

The main motivation for him is to honor Russell though, who he grew up idolizing and learning from as a fellow all-time great. Now that LeBron has vacated the No. 6, no Lakers player will ever wear it again.

James announces return for 21st season at ESPYs

For a majority of this offseason it wasn’t even clear that James would be returning to the Lakers for another year after he contemplated his retirement when they lost in the Western Conference Finals.

The Lakers were operating as if he would be back the whole time though, and he gave the official word himself during his ESPYs speech after winning an award for breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record.

With the moves the Lakers made this offseason, LeBron seems as motivated as ever to get back to the postseason and win another ring in L.A. If he is able to do that, he will again be wearing No. 23 across his chest.

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