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Report: LeBron James ‘quietly’ informed NBA about jersey number switch

LeBron James will no longer wear his No. 23 jersey with the Los Angeles Lakers in light of reports that the superstar will switch back to No. 6 next season. Subsequent reporting suggests that James quietly notified the NBA of the impending change last fall, which carries with it important ramifications.

A policy established by the NBA to discourage players from switching jersey numbers on a whim left players on the hook financially for any leftover inventory related to their former number. Since James surreptitiously filed his request with the NBA before an imposed March deadline ahead of the ensuing season, he will avoid having to pay a dime to cover any leftover No. 23 inventory following his jersey number switch.

According to Darren Rovell of The Action Network, James planned to switch back to No. 6 from No. 23 ahead of the 2019-20 season — perhaps in deference to the then-incoming Anthony Davis, who wore No. 23 before joining the Lakers — but James missed the deadline and reconsidered.

Nike, the NBA’s official uniform and apparel supplier, was offered the opportunity to make an accommodation for James but declined due to the massive inventory of the Lakers star’s No. 23 jerseys in stock at the time.

James wore No. 23 during both of his stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, when James decided to take his talents to South Beach to play for the Miami Heat, he changed to No. 6 and then returned to No. 23 upon his return to Cleveland in 2014.

After James headed to L.A. in the summer of 2018, he elected to stick with No. 23 with the Lakers.

Adding another wrinkle to James’ number saga is that it appears that his decision to return to a No. 6 jersey is at least tangentially tied to the release of “Space Jam: A New Legacy” this summer, as relayed Wednesday by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Rovell goes on to add in his reporting that James’ return to the No. 6 jersey will not enact the Fanatics/American Express Jersey Assurance Program, “which allows fans to get a free replacement of jersey if a player switches teams within three months of purchase.”