I just think what Michael Jordan has done for the game has to be recognized some way soon. There would be no LeBron James, no Kobe Bryant, no Dwyane Wade if there wasn’t Michael Jordan first.LeBron James, ESPN
LeBron even took it one step further, prompting any NBA player who wore No. 23 at a time to choose a different number. He was even ready to initiate the movement by changing his jersey number first, all as a homage to the Bulls‘ icon.
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.LeBron James, ESPN
The NBA has never retired a number like the MLB did with Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 and what the NHL did with Wayne Gretzky’s No. 99. That’s why James publicly lobbied for the league to retire Jordan’s No. 23. It would’ve put him on a tier above everyone else, and even LeBron, who still wasn’t in the “chasing the ghost of Chicago” mode at the time, believed that’s where His Airness belongs.
If you see 23, you think about Michael Jordan. 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.LeBron James, ESPN
After he joined the Heat in the summer of ’11, LeBron kept his promise. As a tribute to MJ, he changed his number to 6. But despite his efforts, LBJ’s peers didn’t follow his lead although many of them said they were on board with James’s initiative.
Four years later, after he announced his return to Cleveland, LeBron went back to wearing No.23. He wears the same number today, playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. But unlike in ’09, when even he linked 23 to MJ, James doesn’t feel the same way anymore. That narrative went out of the window the day LeBron declared himself the greatest player of all time.
There’s no need to retire No.23. In LeBron’s eyes, the best player to ever wear that number is still playing in the NBA.