Dave McMenamin | ESPNStudying: 4 min.
LOS ANGELES — A nod to legend Boston Celtics, Invoice Russell and LeBron James will change their jersey quantity from 6 to 23 subsequent season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Wealthy Paul of Klutch Sports activities Group advised ESPN.
“It was LeBron’s name,” mentioned Paul, James’ longtime pal and agent. “He selected to do it out of respect for Invoice Russell.”
After Russell died final summer time on the age of 88, the NBA retired No. 6, the primary time a participant was honored in that class. Present gamers carrying No. 6 on the time had been grandfathered in and will preserve it in the event that they needed.
The timing of the league’s announcement made it inconceivable to inventory reproduction James jerseys to satisfy fan demand earlier than the beginning of the 2022-23 season. James’ Lakers’ No. 6 uniform led all gamers’ jersey gross sales on NBAStore.com within the second half of the 22-23 season, in keeping with a league announcement.
“It was heartbreaking for us to lose that icon,” James advised ESPN at first of coaching camp in September. “I imply, it doesn’t matter in the event you play, watch the sport, or watch a part of the sport. Everyone knows what Invoice Russell means to the NBA, clearly off the court docket to the Celtics, by way of his heroics . . . and what it means to have the ability to discuss points that African-Individuals are uncomfortable with. ?
“I’ll have the ability to put on No. 6 this season, I’m undecided I’ll proceed to do it, however now I’m going to put on it as a tribute to him. It means so much to me.”
Russell was an 11-time champion, five-time MVP, 12-time All-Star and have become the primary African-American head coach in league historical past with the Celtics, profitable his final two rings as a Boston player-coach. Referred to as the sport’s best scorer, the NBA Finals MVP trophy is known as after Russell.
James is a four-time recipient of the award, and Russell personally offered him with the trophy after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ memorable Recreation 7 victory over the Golden State Warriors in 2016.
James first wore No. 6 in worldwide competitors for Workforce USA, then for all 4 seasons he performed for the Miami Warmth, because the group already wore No. 23 in honor of Michael Jordan. He returned 23 from 2014-2021, the whole thing of his second stint in Cleveland, his first two seasons in Los Angeles and 6 of his final three seasons with the Lakers.
In any case, James has worn the jersey in 13 of his 20 NBA seasons, and that can develop into 14 of 21 when he fits up for the Lakers within the fall.