For the first time in his professional career, LeBron James and his teammates were eliminated in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. While the start of the next season is still nearly a year away, James is already preparing for year 19 of his NBA career. The first step of his preparation involves changing his game jersey number from 23 to six.
The number six isn't entirely foreign to James. During his four-year stint with the Miami Heat, James wore the number six. He also sported a single-digit jersey during his Olympic runs. Not to mention, he wears the number six during practice. James has previously explained that his decision to wear the number 23 was inspired by Michael Jordan and his decision to wear number six was inspired by Bill Russell. Furthermore, his decision to wear a different number in practice than in games was inspired by Deion Sanders. The Super Bowl-winning cornerback wore the number two during practice and number 21 during games.
Switching numbers is not uncommon within the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. Past players like Eddie Jones, Metta World Peace, Gail Goodrich have all changed their numbers while playing in Los Angeles. Most notably, the late Kobe Bryant won his first three NBA Championships while wearing the number eight and he won his final two NBA Championships while wearing the number 24. Also, James' favorite player, Michael Jordan, also changed his number to 45 at one point.
During the off-season, James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers will look to potentially make a few roster changes. James and Davis will also star in the upcoming blockbuster film, Space Jam: A New Journey. After a five-month off-season, the team will regroup for training camp in October. Adam Silver and the league office have yet to share the 2021-2022 NBA Regular Season opening night slate.