The (multi-)million-dollar question for all NBA fans this year is whether or not Lebron James will switch teams in the summer. Although no one really knows which team Bron Bron wants to play for next season, we do know he no longer wants to wear #23. Reports are saying that Lebron has filed the necessary paperwork to change his jersey number to #6 for the 2010-2011 season. James' decision is likely related to his effort to have the NBA retire #23 throughout the entire league in honor of Michael Jordan.
We respect Lebron's effort to defer to the G.O.A.T., but he isn't the first player to flip a jersey number. In fact, lots of players have switched digits without switching teams, for many different reasons—some valid, or even honorable, but some just plain stupid. Here, then, is our list of the 10 Greatest NBA Jersey Number Switches...
OLD TO NEW: #23 to #12 (one game in 1990)
REASON: On Valentine's Day, in a game against the Orlando Magic, a fan broke into MJ's locker and stole his game jersey, forcing him to wear No. 12.
COMPLEX SAYS: At least he didn't get pistol-whipped for his Jordans.
OLD TO NEW: #34 to #32 (1991-92 season)
REASON: After Magic Johnson retired because of his HIV status, Barkley changed his number to Magic's #32.
COMPLEX SAYS: Still didn't win a title, though.
OLD TO NEW: #23 to #45 (second half of 1994-95 season)
REASON: During his first comeback, MJ came back wearing #45, the same number he wore during his minor-league baseball stint.
COMPLEX SAYS: Years later, rapper Jay-Z pulled a similar stunt, but instead of coming back with the 4-5, Jigga returned with a terrible album called Kingdom Come.
OLD TO NEW: #15 to #23 (2002-03 season)
REASON: Artest changed his number as an homage to one of his favorite players, Michael Jordan.
COMPLEX SAYS: We found Ron's more recent MJ tribute to be much more entertaining.
OLD TO NEW: #23 to #91 (2003-04 season)
REASON: Only one season later, Artest changed his number again to honor NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman.
COMPLEX SAYS: Some think that the Malice in the Palice was just Artest going apeshit, but true fans know it was just him tapping into his inner Rodman.
OLD TO NEW: #30 to #36 (2004-05 season)
REASON: After winning a championship the year before, Sheed changed his number in memory of his brother, who died at age 36.
COMPLEX SAYS: No jokes for this one.
OLD TO NEW: #8 to #24 (2006-07 season)
REASON: The Black Mamba switched to his Lower Merion HS number, which was unavailable to him as a rookie.
COMPLEX SAYS: Tryna get that Kobe number? One over Jordan? Sorry but 23 > 24, forever.
OLD TO NEW: No. 32 to No. 1 (2006-07 season)
REASON: After coming back from microfracture surgery, Stoudemire returned as #1, a reference to himself being the only one who believed he could return from such an injury.
COMPLEX SAYS: Now it's time to work on getting that #1 ring.
OLD TO NEW: #1 to #3 (2009-10 season)
REASON: After being involved in Darfur charity efforts for a few years, T-Mac changed his number to 3. The number promoted his Darfur Dream Team Campaign and the 3 Points documentary he filmed in 2007.
COMPLEX SAYS: We think he should just change his number to "DNP-CD."
OLD TO NEW: #4 to #2 (2009-10 season)
REASON: Prior to the season opener, Krypto-Nate announced his jersey number change via Twitter. "#2 was the very first # I had, and when I was a young boy deion sanders was my fav player and that the # he had!!! Big ups to primetime."
COMPLEX SAYS: Nate had to switch back to #4 with the Celts, but we're sure he doesn't mind. That's a classic case of failing up.
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