December 21, 2014

Medina
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James asks for input on what number he should wear

 

Brian Dulik

The Gazette

CLEVELAND — LeBron James wore No. 23 throughout his first stint with the Cavaliers, but switched to No. 6 upon joining the Miami Heat in 2010.

Now that “King James” has returned to Cleveland as an unrestricted free agent, he is seeking fan input for which digit to choose.

James posed the question “6 or 23?” on his Instagram and Twitter accounts Friday, along with photo shopped pictures of himself wearing Cavaliers jerseys with both numbers.

The NBA’s official licensees — topped by uniform supplier Adidas — have been breathlessly awaiting James’ decision since he announced his Cleveland comeback on July 11.

Though a handful of T-shirts featuring the four-time NBA MVP and a Cavaliers logo are on sale, replica James jerseys cannot be manufactured until he picks a number. League sponsors were told earlier in the week that he was considering 6 and 23, along with 32.

James wore No. 32 as a freshman at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High because his first choice, No. 23, was unavailable. He swapped as a sophomore in honor of his favorite player, Michael Jordan.

James, however, switched gears during his final season in Cleveland — after the Cavaliers played a game in Miami and he visited with Heat president Pat Riley — by declaring that No. 23 should be retired league-wide for Jordan.

The aforementioned meeting led to widespread speculation that Riley tampered with a player under contract to Cleveland, but Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert opted not to file a grievance with the NBA after James signed with Miami on July 8, 2010.

James, who first wore No. 6 while playing for the United States Olympic team, has topped the league in jersey sales six times in his 11 NBA seasons.

The Cavaliers Team Shop is accepting presale orders for his future uniform, with prices ranging from $49 for a youth replica to $300 for an adult authentic top. The least expensive adult version is $69.

Cleveland’s all-time scoring leader posted his query while attending a youth basketball tournament in Lexington, Kentucky with his oldest son, LeBron Jr. University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari was also at the event.

James is one of 11 players to wear No. 23 with Cleveland, while seven Cavaliers have sported No. 6: Larry Nance, Mitchell Butler, Shannon Brown, Jerome Moiso, Manny Harris, Ben Uzoh, and Earl Clark.

Nance only wore No. 6 for his first season with the team, then changed to No. 22, which hangs in the rafters at Quicken Loans Arena.

No. 32 has been used by 16 Cleveland players, the most notable being All-Star power forward Tyrone Hill, Roy Hinson, Kenny Carr, and Larry Hughes.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.