In early July, LeBron James offered to swap jersey numbers with Lakers newcomer Anthony Davis. It was a nice gesture—the finishing touch to an NBA-altering trade and an accommodating welcome from the league’s biggest star. Davis wears 23 as a tribute to Michael Jordan but also to his hometown, Chicago. He’s never had another number.
However, by the time James suggested the switch, Nike’s deadline for number changes had passed. (Nike is the NBA’s official apparel provider.) While the company could waive the right to enforce the deadline, they declined to do so, citing the fact that they’d already begun making number 23 James jerseys for the forthcoming season. The financial blow would be, in Nike’s estimation, worth “tens of millions.”