LeBron James, perhaps the NBA's brightest superstar, is enjoying his first season as the league's Most Valuable Player, and is the focal point of a Cleveland Cavaliers team that may be the odds-on favorites to capture the NBA championship next month.
Though just 24-years-old, James has been in the national spotlight since he was 16, and has taken the league by storm. Having just completed his sixth full-season in the league, James' career numbers are staggering: 27.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game.
LeBron is built like Karl Malone but possesses athleticism on the level of Michael Jordan, making him essentially impossible to guard.
First of all, the NBA should retire Jordan's No. 23 throughout the entire NBA, much like baseball with Jackie Robinson (42) and hockey with Wayne Gretzky (99). Unfortunately, this seems highly unlikely to happen.
The point is, LeBron James is unlike any player we've ever seen before. He can be described as a mix between Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan. His jersey number should be unique, and something that he can be remembered with on his own, much like Kobe Bryant's 24 (and formerly No. 8).
LeBron, you're not MJ, it's time to get your own identity.
Let's check out the options and see what LeBron could go with.
If LeBron were forced to changing numbers, I could see him considering jersey No. 1, because his lofty opinion of himself has been quite evident since his "I want to be a global icon" comment came out a couple of years ago.
Nothing says "me" more than being No. 1. However, James would be one of several prominent or formerly prominent NBA players to don the first jersey.
Derrick Rose, last season's first overall pick and Rookie of the Year, chose to switch from one from the No. 23 he wore at Memphis. Needless to say, 23 is a retired number in Chicago.
A couple of years ago, Suns forward Amare Stoudemire chose the No. 1 jersey, in a seemingly random switch from the No. 32 he wore for his first few pro seasons.
Former NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady has worn the No. 1 throughout his career.
One of LeBron's idols (and one of the players James is often compared to), Oscar Robertson, also wore the No. 1, as did Nate "Tiny" Archibald.
While there are several high-profile No. 1s in NBA history, jersey No. 1 seems like a pretty decent potential fit for the King.
While the best players that wear the No. 2 are likely Joe Johnson and Jason Kidd, LeBron seems unlikely to head down this road.
How can the King be No. 2? It makes no sense, and would never happen.
Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Allen Iverson, Steve Francis, Dennis Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Ben Wallace, Stephon Marbury, and Caron Butler all wear or have worn No. 3 throughout their careers.
Nice and original.
While there are many players that wear No. 4 playing in the league today, not all of them are particularly notable, with the best player likely being Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors.
Retired jersey No. 4s are Jerry Sloan, Joe Dumars, Sidney Moncrief, Wendell Ladner, Adrian Dantley, and Chris Webber.
LeBron could feasibly don No. 4, if he were so inclined.
The No. 5 is intriguing because there are only two jersey numbers fives that have been retired in league history and they are...drum roll please...Dick Van Arsdale and Mendy Rudolph, the latter of which being an NBA referee.
Baron Davis, pictured above, doesn't even wear the number anymore.
LeBron publicly likes to act like his teammates and team accomplishments are all that matter to him, so what better way to commemorate them than by wearing the No. 5 to represent all five players on the floor?
Kevin Garnett switched from No. 21 to five for the Celtics and he won an NBA championship right away.
Not a bad sign there, LeBron.
There would obviously be many, many options for LeBron to consider if he were so inclined to get an original jersey number (100 to be exact).
My suggestion, however, is that he just switch his number according to number of NBA titles he's won. If the Cavs don't end up winning this season, LeBron should go into next season (possibly his last as a Cavalier) wearing the No. 0.
Not that LeBron likely needs incentive to try and win, but getting a new jersey number for each championship ring seems like a nice little reward and could be a way to stay focused on one goal throughout his career.
There's a very, very solid chance that James will go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
He's got some serious, serious work and winning to do, but if LeBron James can finish his brilliant career wearing the No. 7, he'll likely go down as the greatest of them all.