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The stunning news Thursday rocked the basketball world: LeBron James will give up his No. 23 Lakers jersey — the one he wore for the entirety of a storied 2018-19 campaign that saw him miss nearly half the season as the franchise crumbled around him — to newly acquired teammate Anthony Davis.
In a frenzied whirlwind of intrigue ahead of the Lakers potentially signing a third max player and a bunch of randos and scrubs to fill out their roster, James set the NBA world afire by tweeting out a tiny numeral 6 with the praying-hands emoji — a transmission widely understood to mean that he is returning to the number he wore during his largely successful but once wildly lamented four-year tenure with the Miami Heat.
This is big, folks. It means, for one thing, that everyone who shelled out for a No. 23 LeBron James Lakers jersey will now need to either remove “JAMES” and screenprint “DAVIS” onto the back or shoulder the humiliation that comes with wearing outdated gear.
Sadly, it also demonstrates a complete lack of originality in the main basketball guy, who’d previously been known for his general avoidance of such missteps across his 16-season tenure in the NBA spotlight. C’mon, LeBron James. You already wore No. 6! Why not pick something new and fresh to show that this go-around in Los Angeles is a new and different thing from the years in Miami that brought you your first two championship rings?
Presumably a one-man industry like LeBron did not come to such a decision without input from the brands, and it’s not hard to imagine a boardroom full of sneaker executives and creatives pouring over digits to determine which ones could be manipulated into cool new logos to be emblazoned on T-shirts and sold at outrageous markups to willing human billboards. Maybe they settled on No. 6 not for LeBron’s history with the jersey but for its extreme and unforeseen popularity in their rigorous market research.
Still, LeBron should’ve chosen a different number, because he’s simply too cool and good to retrace his old steps. It’s a known fact that bands turn crappy as soon as they start consciously trying to sound like themselves instead of just making the music they’re inclined to make. If you read a music review about a legacy rock group “getting back to basics” and attempting to recapture “their classic sound,” that album sucks.
The numbers 8, 13, 22, 24, 25, 32, 33, 34, 42, 44 and 52 are retired by the Lakers, so those, obviously, are right out. 44 would’ve been OK, though. Here are five numbers LeBron could’ve picked that would be better than No. 6:
1. #82: Did you know that no one in NBA history has worn the number 82