LeBron James Not On the Hook for Lakers Jersey Number Change
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James.
LeBron James won’t have to pay millions of dollars to change his number back to No. 6.
Sources told The Action Network that James informed the NBA last season of his intent to change, which got him out of being on the hook for anything still at retail.
James had originally planned to give up No. 23 for the 2019-20 season, but missed the March deadline to declare a jersey change. Nike was given the chance to allow the NBA to approve the change anyway and denied it because of the glut of jerseys still on the market.
James quietly filed again without fanfare, made the deadline, and therefore allowed Nike to prepare, sources said.
When it became fashionable to change jersey numbers at will, the NBA put in place a policy that would protect retailers. It was meant to become cost prohibitive for stars to do so because of the financial damage it would cost those who sold their jerseys.
A March deadline was imposed so that any star who wants to change his jersey without changing teams could do so as long as it was before that deadline, allowing for more than seven months before the start of the following season.
It is not likely many lower-level retailers knew of the plan.
James’ change to No. 6 would not be covered under 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. Rules stipulate that a jersey can’t be exchanged for another if a player has just changed their jersey number but not changed his team.
James previously wore No. 6 when he played in the Olympics and with the Miami Heat for four seasons. He is also wearing the No. 6 in the sequel to “Space Jam,” which James stars in and is being released in July.