Miami -- Basking in the glow of a victory over the Heat, Cavs superstar LeBron James looked over at his idol sitting in the stands at AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday night and made a command decision.
Out of respect to Michael Jordan, who sat courtside and watched James score 34 points, James said he is planning on switching his number after this season from No. 23 to No. 6. It just sort of came out, but it was obvious he's been thinking about it for a while.
Cleveland Cavaliers beat Miami Heat, 111-104The Miami Heat retired Michael Jordan's No. 23 in 2003. It's also retired in Chicago. Hmmm...
And James wants to lead a movement to get every player who wears No. 23 in the league to give it up as a tribute to Jordan.
"I just think what Michael Jordan has done for the game has to be recognized some way soon," James said. "There would be no LeBron James, no Kobe Bryant, no Dwyane Wade if there wasn't Michael Jordan first.
"He can't get the logo, and if he can't, something has to be done. I feel like no NBA player should wear 23. I'm starting a petition, and I've got to get everyone in the NBA to sign it. Now, if I'm not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it."
James said his mind was almost made up, but the more he talked, the more he sounded like he was about to make an impromptu marketing shock wave.
"If you see 23, you think about Michael Jordan," James said. "You see game-winning shots, you think about Michael Jordan; you see guys fly through the air, you think about Michael Jordan; you see fly kicks, you think about Michael Jordan. He did so much, it has to be recognized, and not just by putting him in the Hall of Fame."
Going to No. 6 would be a natural, and James would have to inform the league by March to change jerseys by next year. Jordan himself changed jerseys briefly during his career, to No. 45, and several years ago, Kobe Bryant went from No. 8 to No. 24, so it has been done.
No. 6 is James' Olympic number, and he has worn it in Cavs practices over the past two years. But it has other special qualities to him.
"My second-favorite player was Julius Erving, and he wore No. 6," James said. "I wore 32 in high school because Dr. J wore it at first. My first child was born on Oct. 6, it's my Olympic number, my second child was born in June."