LeBron James will switch back to the No. 23 jersey number for the 2023-24 NBA season, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. The Los Angeles Lakers star has worn the No. 6 for the past two seasons, but is making the switch to honor late Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell, who died one year ago this month. The NBA permanently retired the number shortly after his death, but allowed any current player sporting the number to continue to wear it.
James has worn the No. 23 for the majority of his legendary career, including both of his stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and his first three seasons with the Lakers. However, he rocked the No. 6 for his entire four-year run with the Miami Heat and the aforementioned prior two seasons in L.A.
There are multiple reasons why James was drawn to the No. 6, namely as a symbolic nod to his sons. Bronny’s birthday is on October 6 while Bryce’s birthday is in June, the sixth month of the year. He first wore the number as a member of Team USA during the 2008 Olympics and when he joined the Heat two years later, he adopted the number because the franchise had already retired the No. 23 in honor of Michael Jordan. He decided to make the switch back to the No. 6 a little over a decade later with the Lakers, but the death of the NBA’s most legendary No. 6 in Russell made him reconsider.