LeBron James and 25 other athletes who changed numbers

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Switching digits

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James is going back to No. 6 for the 2021-22 NBA season. This isn't the first time the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar has changed his number, nor is it a unique decision. What other athletes have swapped digits? Let's take a look...

Charles Barkley

(AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Charles Barkley wore the number 34 jersey during his first six years with the Philadelphia 76ers but decided to change it to 32 during the 1991-92 season to honor Magic Johnson. He returned to 34 in Phoenix. In Houston, he wore No. 4 as he was teammates with Hakeem Olajuwon.

Karl Malone

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill,file)

Karl Malone spent the first 18 seasons of his career with the Utah Jazz wearing number 32. When he became a Laker, he was forced to wear 11, as the team had already retired Magic Johnson’s jersey.

Shaquille O'Neal

USA TODAY Sports

Shaquille O’Neal couldn’t wear the 32 jersey when he joined the Los Angeles Lakers because of Magic Johnson, so he turned to 34. However, he turned back to 32 once he joined the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns, but he decided to wear 33 when he played for the Cavaliers and had to change it again to 36 (because of Larry Bird and Kevin McHale) when he joined the Celtics.

Oscar Robertson

Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Oscar Robertson wore No. 14 for his first 10 seasons as a Cincinnati Royal. When he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, Jon McGlocklin alread that number so The Big O switched to No. 1.

Dwyane Wade

(Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

Dwyane Wade didn't wear No. 3 as a Cavalier, going for No. 9, the number he wore as an U.S. Olympian.

Kevin Durant

AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Kevin Durant switched from his familiar 35 to No. 7 when he joined the Brooklyn Nets.

Kobe Bryant

(AP Photo/Michael Caulfield)

Kobe Bryant wore Nos. 8 and 24 during his long and glorious career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Michael Jordan

USA TODAY Sports

Michael Jordan wore No. 23 famously. However, he did switch to No. 45 for a time when he returned from a mid-life retirement.

Hank Aaron

Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Hank Aaron is famous for No. 44. However, in 1954 the when he made the Milwaukee Braves' Opening Day roster, the team's equipment manager told Aaron to stick with the number he'd been wearing all spring: 5. He finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting but switched to 44 in 1955.

Don Mattingly

(AP Photo)

Don Mattingly wore No. 46 when up with the Yankees for a short time in 1983. He went on to greatness in half that number, 23, which now hangs in Monument Park,

Clayton Kershaw

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Clayton Kershaw didn't wear 54 for a full year -- he wore it for one start, the first of his career, at Dodger Stadium against the Cardinals on May 25, 2008.

Willie Mays

(AP Photo)

Before Willie Mays was No. 24, he was No. 14 for his debut with the Giants in 1951.

Barry Bonds

Phil Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of Willie Mays, his godson Barry Bonds switched from No. 24 to No. 25 when he joined the Giants via the Pittsburgh Pirates. Mays' iconic "24" was already retired, plus, No. 25 honored Bonds' father and Giants great, Bobby.

Justin Verlander

Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Verlander has worn No. 35 except for the first two starts of his Major League career, in the summer of 2005, when he had to more or less take what the team gave him on short notice ... and wound up with No. 59.

Mickey Mantle

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Mickey Mantle's No. 7 is long retired in the Bronx. New York assigned him the No. 6 jersey, placing him as the next in a line of icons from Ruth (No. 3) to Gehrig (No. 4) to DiMaggio (who spent his rookie year as No. 9 before immortalizing No. 5). He hit .260/.341/.423 over his first 76 games, was sent to Triple-A Kansas City in mid-July, and continued to struggle. When Mantle returned to the Bombers, third baseman Bobby Brown was wearing No. 6, so Mantle took No. 7.

Budda Baker

Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK

Budda Baker of the Cardinals is one of the NFL players to take advantage of the new rules around jersey numbers, switching from 32 to 3.

Patrick Peterson

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Patrick Peterson has moved on from the Arizona Cardinals to the Minnesota Vikings, with whom he will go from 21 to 7.

Emmanuel Sanders

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Emmanuel Sanders' jersey shuffle continues. He has gone from 17, to 10 and now will wear No. 1 as a Bill.

Darius Slay

USAT

Darius Slay paid tribute to Kobe Bryant in his first year as an Eagles, wearing No. 24. Next up for the DB is a swap to No. 2.

Leonard Fournette

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Leonard Fournette goes from No. 28 in Tampa Bay to 7, which he wore at LSU.

Jason Verrett

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Niners' Jason Verrett switched from No. 22 to 2.

Jalen Ramsey

USAT

There was great wonderment over what Jalen Ramsey would do with his No. 20. Robert Woods beat him to No. 2 and at mini-camp, Ramsey popped up in No. 5 this week.

Jordan Fuller

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Another Rams DB, Jordan Fuller, has made a switch going from No. 32 to No. 4.

Robert Woods

(AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

Robert Woods beat Jalen Ramsey to No. 2 in Los Angeles.

Joe Montana

Mike Powell/ALLSPORT

Joe Montana wore No. 16 to glory in San Francisco but had to switch to No. 19 in Kansas City, where the number has been retired in honor of the great Len Dawson.

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