As part of his big plan to welcome Anthony Davis, Lebron James is giving up his jersey number as a gift to his new Los Angeles Lakers teammate.
Lakers confirmed the blockbuster trade last month. It took months for the team to land Davis due to the trade deadline in February. Lakers was only able to make a deal after the free agency moratorium period has ended.
James has yet to relinquish No. 23 because Nike, the official jersey manufacturer of the NBA, won’t let that happen just yet, citing potential production and financial issues to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, ESPN reported.
Nike did not comply due to volumes of inventory of the No. 23 James jerseys. Nike also had an upcoming Lebron 17 sneakers with the same jersey number imprint. Updating to No. 6 in time for selling this fall would be impractical given that design has already been signed off and production has started.
The jersey swap was planned in 2019-20 and was supposed to happen for the 2020-21 season until it met some roadblocks. James previously documented the supposed swap on his Instagram account, confirming the switch back to No. 6 as well.
Davis has worn No. 23 during his seven-season stint with the New Orleans Pelicans. He also used it in high school and college. James had his No. 23 jersey for his eleven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James agreed to swap when Davis enters Lakers. James would resume using No. 6, his previous jersey number with Miami Heat, where he won two titles and making it to the NBA finals for four years straight, and in the Olympics as a part of Team USA if the swap pushed through.
The Lakers had already missed the March 15, 2019 deadline for any jersey changes. The team discovered the said deadline only after it made an inquiry with the NBA. According to the league, the number change would still be possible if it can work out a deal with Nike.
But even if they met the said deadline, the request is expected to be declined. James did not submit an official request to change his jersey number from No. 23 to No. 6 for the next season either.
James and the team have until March 15, 2020, to make the official declarations.
For James also, he would hold off the change to consider the fans who have already purchased No. 23 James jerseys. Yahoo! Sports also reported that the Lakers star would bypass the decision so he, Davis and the entire team may focus on competing for a championship.
Since the jersey swap is not happening, Davis took to Instagram to announce that he’d be sticking with No. 3–the number he used in the last season and when he was in elementary school. The team also announced it on its official Twitter account last Saturday, July 13.
While the fans won’t be seeing No. 23 Davis jerseys, Davis was introduced to the Lakers fans through a press conference later that same day.