A few weeks after announcing his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James asked his massive social media following: Should he wear No. 23 or No. 6 with the wine and gold? His first NBA jersey number won out, rendering the one he donned with the Miami Heat a thing of the past.
Well, kind of.
Six has not only been James’ number during the past two Olympic Games, but he’s also taken to wearing it in Cleveland’s ongoing training camp – and did so during his team’s public intrasquad scrimmage on Monday night, too. Why? Below, The King explains his inspiration behind the unofficial switch to Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.
“It’s just a number of mine,” James said, following the scrimmage. He scored six points on 2-of-7 shooting in 12 minutes.
“One of my two numbers – 6, 23,” James continued. “There’s nothing to it. It’s my practice jersey. It’s like Deion (Sanders) when he was at Florida State he wore like 2 in practice and when he went to the pros he wore 2 in practice but wore 21 on the playing field. It’s like that.”
Deion Sanders, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who rose to national fame during James’ adolescence, wore No. 21 until the final two seasons of his 14-year stay in the NFL. Two was his number not just in college with the Florida State Seminoles, though, but also his practice designation throughout a well-traveled NFL career.
A quick Google search of practice photos featuring Sanders shows him wearing No. 2 on the practice field with the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, and Washington Redskins. Here he is donning deuce in Ravens white and purple:
Like Sanders before him, James is among the most exciting and versatile playmakers in all of sports. Might wearing No. 6 help him embrace his inner-Primetime? Perhaps, but it’s more likely that he’s just having a bit of care-free fun, remembering his past, and paying homage to a former great – or something like that.
Either way, that reality won’t stop legions of fans from wondering if James is considering a permanent number switch – and drawing completely theoretical conclusions on what it could mean for his future.