LeBron James won't be giving his No. 23 jersey to new Los Angeles Lakers teammate Anthony Davis after all, at least not until the 2020-21 season.
According to multiple reports Friday, James did not file an official request to change numbers before the March 15 deadline, and Nike, the league's official outfitter, preferred not to make an exception due to financial implications.
ESPN reports a jersey number change would have cost Nike "well into the tens of millions of dollars," based on unused inventory of James No. 23 jerseys already produced. Yahoo Sports added that James decided to postpone the jersey change, desiring to avoid a distraction and giving consideration to fans who already bought his No. 23.
Later Friday night, Davis appeared to confirm the news on Instagram. Though his Instagram handle is still "antdavis23," the 26-year-old posted a photo of himself in a Lakers No. 3 jersey with the caption, "Taking the number all the way back to elementary school! #3"
Davis is scheduled to be officially introduced at a news conference Saturday.
Yahoo reported in late June that James would give Davis, who arrived via trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, the number Davis has worn dating back to at least high school. James was expected to take No. 6, which he wore from 2010-14 in Miami between stints wearing No. 23 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Instead, that change won't happen at least for one more season.
The Lakers have retired the following numbers: 8, Kobe Bryant; 13, Wilt Chamberlain; 22, Elgin Baylor; 24, Kobe Bryant; 25, Gail Goodrich; 32, Magic Johnson; 33, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; 34, Shaquille O'Neal; 42, James Worthy; 44, Jerry West; and 52, Jamaal Wilkes.
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