LeBron James to Change His Number Next Year?

Tab BamfordSenior Writer INovember 13, 2009

Michael Jordan watched the Miami Heat play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night as two of the game's premier players (and potential free agents in nine short months) played.

After Dwyane Wade's Heat lost to LeBron James' Cavs, TNT's Craig Sager spoke with James about the presence of Jordan at the game.

James, a student of the game who's respectful of the history of the NBA (and shoe contracts), instantly began talking about how much respect he has for Jordan "paving the way" for players like him to make millions.

Then James threw Sager a curveball he couldn't handle: James said he's going to give up the number he's had on his back his entire NBA career, 23, out of respect for Jordan's influence on the game.

James said the league couldn't redesign their logo, changing out Jerry West for Jordan's Jumpman, but he believed the entire league should retire "Jordan's Number" the way the NHL has globally retired Wayne Gretzky's 99 and MLB has retired Jackie Robinson's 42.

"[Jordan's] number shouldn't be worn by any player in the NBA," James told Sager.

(Obviously nobody is putting either Jordan or Gretzky in the class of Robinson, but the numbers are globally retired.)

Sager asked James what number he would switch to, and he indicated he would wear his Olympic number, six, next year and give up 23.

This presents not only a bold statement of respect, but also an intriguing question: should the NBA globally retire Jordan's number? Miami, of course, is the only team that has retired an opponent's jersey; Pat Riley retired Jordan's 23 when he retired (from the Bulls).

James was humbled by Jordan's presence, and fans should enjoy his respect for the game.

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