LeBron James had a deadline this week and it appears he is covering all of his bases - or tipping his free agent hand. Back in November, James had announced he decided to change his jersey number to #6. He wears #6 on Team USA as a tribute to day of the month his son was born. He also wanted to give up #23 out of respect for Michael Jordan.
At the time, no one knew just how serious LeBron was. What was known, however, was that LeBron would have to apply to the NBA for the change IF, and this is the part that should grab the attention of Cavs fans, IF he wanted to change to #6 for next season in a Cavaliers jersey. The NBA does not require a player to apply for a number change if playing for a new team.
In short, if LeBron signs with, say, the Knicks this summer, he could change to #6 no questions asked. As a Cavalier, James would need to apply to the NBA to make the switch. The deadline for such an application is this week and according to the Plain Dealer, LeBron has filed the paperwork.
"I've done it," James said. "I already sent it in. I'm going to be No. 6."
The NBA does not have to fulfill the request, players who don't change teams have to apply to change their number in March before the previous season. However, the wave of new jersey sales the switch promises to trigger would likely be too enticing for the league to turn down.
In 2006, Kobe Bryant requested his number to be changed from No. 8 to No. 24. The NBA approved the move and Bryant's jerseys quickly shot to No. 1 in sales across the world. James has been in the top three in jersey sales in the U.S., China and Europe in recent years but hasn't enjoyed the top spot for several years.
Player do not directly benefit from merchandise sales, however. It goes into a league-wide pool that is distributed to teams and then players based on seniority.
During a time when everyone seems to be look for examples of why LeBron WILL leave Cleveland, his application for a move to #6 in Wine and Gold shows that LeBron, at the very least, is covering all his bases for 2010-11.
Good news for Cavs fans indeed!
Thanks to rolub for the original Fan Shot!