Anthony Davis and LeBron James are teammates now, in case you somehow missed that, and the duo has the Lakers among the frontrunners for the 2020 NBA title.
Davis joining the Lakers was the culmination of a near five-month long trade request saga that ultimately ended with him going to his preferred destination to pair up with James. There was clearly mutual interest between the players in playing together, and their shared representation made sure to get them on the same team by sheer will of force.
Rich Paul made sure other teams knew Davis would not consider re-signing with them, thus lowering the offers those teams would present to the Pelicans and making the Lakers offer the best on the market, provided they put up the young players and draft assets. Ultimately, they did that ahead of the draft and acquired Davis, sending quite the bounty to the Pelicans who also had the benefit of landing the top pick and Zion Williamson.
As for the Lakers, they gave up that group with the idea that duo could win championships, and banked on their relationship on and off the court becoming one of the best in the league — and keeping Davis in L.A. long-term. LeBron is trying his best to do his part with both of those things, including gifting Davis the No. 23 that they both wear — although Nike thwarted the gesture from being an immediate change.
The story of how LeBron gave Davis the number is something straight out of the promposal playbook, with James taking Davis to his favorite L.A. pizza spot and pretending to give him a card from his wife, Savannah, as Davis told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
“It was the end of the dinner,” Davis says. “He pulled out a card. He was like, ‘My wife wanted me to give you this.’ I was like, ‘Why is Savannah giving me a card?'”
Davis tore open the envelope and began to read the inscription.
“‘Welcome to L.A.’ such and such and such, ‘bro,'” Davis says, remembering the note. “I stopped reading. I said, ‘Wait, Savannah doesn’t even call me ‘bro.'”
He scanned to the bottom of the card for the signature: King James #6.
“Then he pulls the jersey out.”
From inside the to-go bag the waiter had brought over, James whipped out a gold Lakers jersey with No. 23 stitched in purple numerals.
“He was like, ‘This is yours.'”
Davis thought the jersey was LeBron’s, which would be a weird gift, but then turned it around to see it was a Davis 23 jersey. That’s when LeBron let him know he was giving him the number, even if it won’t go into effect this year.
It’s a pretty funny story, most notably because Davis realized the Savannah part was a ruse once he saw the word “bro” in the card — “Savannah doesn’t even call me bro” is an all time great NBA quote. LeBron didn’t want to just say “you can have 23” but going the misdirection route with the card and having the waiter sneak him a to-go bag with the jersey is so hilariously elaborate that it’s great. We’ll see if the two can develop championship chemistry on the court, but it’s clear LeBron is willing to put in the work off the court too.