LeBron James fans, get ready to make some room in your closet for No. 6 jerseys.
James told The Plain Dealer on Monday that he’s filed the paperwork with the NBA office to switch his jersey number from No. 23 to No. 6 next season. He had to make the decision this week, the deadline to make the request to the NBA is Wednesday.
James first brought up the idea in November, saying he wanted to give up No. 23 out of respect to his hero, Michael Jordan. At that time he said he was “50/50” on switching to No. 6, his Olympic number and the day of the month his first son was born. That now seems to be 100 percent.
“I’ve done it,” James said. “I already sent it in. I’m going to be No. 6.”
The NBA does not have to fulfill the request, players who don’t change teams have to apply to change their number in March before the previous season. However, the wave of new jersey sales the switch promises to trigger would likely be too enticing for the league to turn down.
In 2006, Kobe Bryant requested his number to be changed from No. 8 to No. 24. The NBA approved the move and Bryant’s jerseys quickly shot to No. 1 in sales across the world. James has been in the top three in jersey sales in the U.S., China and Europe in recent years but hasn’t enjoyed the top spot for several years.
Player do not directly benefit from merchandise sales, however. It goes into a league-wide pool that is distributed to teams and then players based on seniority.
Jordan, of course, also pulled such a move. He switched to No. 45 for part of a season when he came out of retirement for the first time with the Chicago Bulls.
Other than playing for Team USA, the last time James did not wear No. 23 was during his freshman year of high school when he wore No. 32 because a senior was wearing 23.