New Number, Who Dis?

Word on the street is that LeBron James is changing his jersey number...again.

Illustration for article titled New Number, Who Dis?
Photo: Harry How (Getty Images)

As someone who struggles with varying degrees of social anxiety, I find great comfort in familiarity. I eat damn near the same thing almost every single day (either shrimp, a fish of some sort, or chicken), I’ve gone to the same barber for the past seven years (and like an ain’t-shit husband, only cheat on her when I’m out of town), I almost always hit the same bars and restaurants, and I hate to deviate from my regular driving routes—even when traffic won’t let me be great.


On the other end of the spectrum is LeBron James—who could give less than a shit about routines or familiarity. Throughout the course of his 18-year career in the NBA, he was drafted by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, defected to the Miami Heat, returned to the Cavs, dipped for the Los Angeles Lakers, and could end up playing either tight end or wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys if you let him have his way. He’s crushed his opponents under traditional circumstances, he’s destroyed international competition, he won his fourth NBA championship in the middle of a fucking global pandemic, and he’s laid waste to any and all who dare stand in his way whether he was 15 or 36 years old.

So with change being a constant in his life, it should come as no surprise that per ESPN, King James is changing his jersey number yet again:

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James will be changing from No. 23 to No. 6 on his uniform next season, but not to pass on his old number to Anthony Davis, as he intended a couple of years ago.

James will don No. 6 for the 2021-22 season and Davis will stay with No. 3, the number he wore when L.A. won the championship in his inaugural season with the purple and gold, a team source confirmed to ESPN.

For those keeping track at home, the 17-time All-Star rocked No. 23 during his first stint with the Cavs from 2003-10. And to anyone wondering if it was a homage to Mr. Michael Jeffrey Jordan, the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

“I wear the No. 23 for the great Michael Jordan,” James said in 2019. “When I started playing basketball, I was like, ‘Oh, man. That two-three looks good. I wanna be able to fly like him. I wanna be able to shoot like him. I wanna be able to dunk on somebody like him. I wanna be able to stick out my tongue like him in the air and yell in somebody’s face like MJ.’ So, ever since I started playing ball, I wore No. 23.”

However, after making a spectacle out of joining the Heat in 2010, he abandoned No. 23 and rocked No. 6 instead because the organization had already retired No. 23 in honor of His Airness. LeBron would then resume wearing No. 23 upon his return to Cleveland in 2014 and he’s kept that jersey number since.


King James has yet to disclose his reasoning for his return to No. 6, but maybe after getting his ass kicked up and down the court and booted out of the playoffs in the first round for the first time in his career, the change will motivate him to return to peak form.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.



This is almost certainly about money. I bet there’s some bonuses in his contract about number of jerseys sold. New number = people buying jerseys.

And hey, good on him. I hope his cut is big.