Anthony Davis won't be getting LeBron James' No. 23 jersey number after all

Jack Baer
·2 min read

The Los Angeles Lakers’ jersey number drama will not have a sequel. At least not this year.

Many NBA fans will remember that when the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis last offseason, the move came with an enthusiastic promise from LeBron James to cede his No. 23 to his new teammate. James had worn the No. 23 for his entire non-Miami Heat career, while Davis had the same number on the New Orleans Pelicans.

The two even held some kind of poorly lit parking lot ceremony to commemorate the transfer on Instagram.

The agreement signaled James’ enthusiasm to center the team around Davis, but there was just one problem. Nike had already made a few too many James No. 23 jerseys, and the Lakers had missed the deadline for jersey number swaps by months.

Due to the financial hit the apparel maker would take with so many out-of-date James jerseys, Davis eventually had to settle on No. 3, with the plan reportedly being to take No. 23 in a year. That plan — which feels like ancient history these days — is reportedly now off.

According to Silver Screen & Roll, a team spokesperson confirmed that Davis has warmed to his No. 3 and will not be swapping numbers this offseason. It’s not hard to figure out why that might be; winning a championship will give you some pretty great memories with a new number.

However, James doesn’t appear ready to let the idea completely die, as he posted this to his Instagram story the day after it was reported the swap was off.

“#23 gonna look a little different this year and we got this guy #6 ... he’s aight lol,” James said. “Next season but that’s tough!”

That would seem to indicate James still plans to give his number to Davis after the 2020-21 season, since it appears he is once again too late this year. Nike wouldn’t let James and Davis change numbers in July for a season that started three months down the line; they’re not going to let the pair do the same for a season three weeks away while a pandemic wreaks havoc with their manufacturing and shipping.

The Lakers’ own website revealed a new batch of jerseys just this week with the pair’s current numbers, so if you bought a James No. 23 jersey or a Davis No. 3 jersey or were just eyeing one, rest easy for at least this season.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, stands with forward Anthony Davis during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 117-105. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
LeBron James will keep his No. 23. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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