LeBron James Switching Numbers Back To 23 To Honor Bill Russell

LeBron James will be returning to the No. 23 for the upcoming NBA season.

BYCole Blake
Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks

LeBron James intends to pay respects to the late Boston Celtics legend, Bill Russell, by switching his jersey number back to 23 this upcoming season. His longtime friend and agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group, confirmed the news to ESPN on Saturday night.

"It's LeBron's decision," Paul told the outlet. "He chose to out of respect for Bill Russell." In the wake of Russell's passing, last summer, the NBA retired the No. 6 across the league. It was the first time that the league had ever honored a player to that extent. James had a choice to keep wearing No. 6, however, as players already using the number were grandfathered in.

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LeBron James Wears Number 23 For The Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 06: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after his three pointer in double overtime to lead the Lakers to a 135-129 win over the Detroit Pistonsat Staples Center on February 06, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

"For us to lose such icon, it was heartbreaking for all of us," James told ESPN at the start of training camp in September. "I mean, no matter if you play the game, watch the game or a part of the game. We all know what Bill Russell meant to the NBA, obviously to the Celtics off the floor as well, as far as his heroism … and what he meant to Black people, being able to speak about issues that are not comfortable. For me to be able to wear No. 6 this season -- I'm not sure if I'll continue to do it, but right now I'm going to wear it in honor of him. It means a lot to me."

James wore No. 23 with the Cleveland Cavaliers to begin his career, but switched to No. 6 when he joined the Miami Heat for four seasons. The team already retired No. 23 in honor of Michael Jordan. James went back to No. 23 for his second stint in Cleveland as well as his first three seasons in L.A. He only switched back to No. 6 during the last two seasons.

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About The Author
Cole Blake is currently an Editor at HotNewHipHop based out of Brooklyn, New York. He began working at the site as an intern back in 2018 while studying journalism at St. John’s University. In the time since, he’s graduated with a bachelor's degree and written extensively about a wide range of topics including pop culture, film & television, politics, video games, sports, and much more. He’s also covered music festivals such as Gov. Ball and Rolling Loud. You can find him publishing work for HNHH from Monday to Wednesday or on weekends. On the sports front, Cole’s a passionate NBA and NFL fan with his favorite teams being the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Lakers. He also roots for the Yankees whenever he finds himself at Yankee Stadium or the Red Storm when in the company of other SJU alumni. His favorite hip-hop artists are billy woods, Earl Sweatshirt, Cam’ron, MIKE, and Mach-Hommy.