In an attempt to honor retired NBA great Michael Jordan, the Cleveland Cavs’ star Lebron James is campaigning to retire the number 23 from the entire NBA, and wants to start by changing his own jersey number.
Last week, James announced that he’d be wearing the number “6.”
“I just think what Michael Jordan has done for the game has to be recognized some way soon,” James said in an interview with ESPN. “There would be no LeBron James, no Kobe Bryant, no Dwyane Wade if there wasn’t Michael Jordan first. He can’t get the logo (Hall of Famer Jerry West‘s silhouette adorns the NBA’s logo), and if he can’t, something has to be done. I feel like no NBA player should wear 23.
“I’m starting a petition, and I’ve got to get everyone in the NBA to sign it. Now, if I’m not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it,” he continued.
Like the MLB did for Jackie Robinson‘s “43,” and the NHL did for Wayne Gretsky‘s “99,” Lebron hopes the NBA will consider it for Jordan. While Jordan’s longtime team, the Chicago Bulls, have retired number, James feels it needs to be league-wide.
“If you see 23, you think about Michael Jordan,” James told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “You see game-winning shots, you think about Michael Jordan; you see guys fly through the air, you think about Michael Jordan; you see fly kicks, you think about Michael Jordan. He did so much, it has to be recognized, and not just by putting him in the Hall of Fame.”
Despite James’ efforts, the number retirement seems unlikely, reports the Associated Press. NBA spokesman Tim Frank said on Saturday that “retiring a player’s number is a decision that has been made by the teams” and not the league.
At present day, 13 players rock the #23 on their jerseys, including Oklahoma City rookie Byron Mullens, who chose the number after finding his preferred #32 was retired by the organization for Seattle SuperSonics great Fred Brown.
He’s open to switch though. “I don’t have a problem,” Mullens said. “I’m a rookie, so I don’t have no say-so. It’s Jordan, man. His number should be retired from the NBA. If it is, then congratulations and good for him. If it’s not, then I guess I’ll stick to it. I was kidding around with my teammates, though. I told them, ‘Jordan’s going to have to pay me out.'”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who coached Jordan in Chicago, endorsed the idea, but noted that it might be “a little step on the toes for a guy like Magic (Johnson) or (Larry) Bird.”
The other players wearing #23 are: Kevin Martin (Sacramento), Stephen Graham (Charlotte), C.J. Watson (Golden State), Marcus Camby (Los Angeles Clippers), Jodie Meeks (Milwaukee), Devin Brown (New Orleans), Lou Williams (Philadelphia), Jason Richardson (Phoenix), Martell Webster (Portland) and Wesley Matthews (Utah).
What do you think? Should the #23 be retired throughout the entire NBA?
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