LeBron James won’t be giving up his No. 23 to new teammate Anthony Davis after all.
The planned jersey swap for the 2019-20 season has been postponed due to potential production and financial issues with manufacturer Nike, a source told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, confirming a Yahoo! Sports report.
James wore No. 23 during both of his stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and last year in Los Angeles. It’s the number Davis wore during his seven seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans.
After the Lakers agreed to a blockbuster trade for Davis last month, James appeared to confirm on social media that he would switch back to No. 6 — which he wore with Team USA in the Olympics and with the Miami Heat — while giving No. 23 to Davis.
That swap hit some road blocks in recent weeks.
A league source confirmed to ESPN that the NBA notified the Lakers that a March 15 deadline for jersey changes had passed, but it would waive it if Nike, the league’s official outfitter, complied. The company did not, as the unused inventory of No. 23 James jerseys already produced would have led to a financial hit “well into the tens of millions of dollars,” a source told ESPN.
James, per the Yahoo! report, thus decided to postpone the jersey change out of what the website called consideration for fans who already purchased his No. 23 and a desire to keep the situation from becoming a distraction.
As of Friday, James had yet to file an official request to change from No. 23 to No. 6 for the 2020-21 season, a league source told McMenamin. James has until March 15, 2020, to do so.
The Lakers will introduce Davis during a news conference on Saturday in El Segundo, California. James is expected to attend.