The ultimate recognition that surpasses any award an NBA player might get from his team after his career is over, comes when the number he wore on his Jersey is finally retired. This means that no other player in that team shall ever wear a jersey, which has a similar like number. Its done out of respect, honour as well as a way of saying thank you to the exceptional service he rendered the team.
As a player gains popularity, so as the number he wears. The player and the number become symbolically one thing. The number acts as the face of the player when his back is on the crowd. NBA commentators quite often use numbers as way of remembering certain players during their commentaries. The closest a fan will ever get to enjoy the company of his favorite player is when he is wearing his replica Jerseys.
A lot of numbers have been indeed been retired in the NBA, the most notable ones belonging to the Boston Celtics and La Lakers. Among all the numbers retired, the one worn by Michael Jordan, No.23 is surely the greatest of them all. No other player in any competitive sports commands a high sense of ownership to his number than the way No 23 was and still is attached to Jordan.
When Jordan retired the NBA came under a lot of pressure to retire No 23 and stop other teams from using it. Unfortunately up-to-date they can’t do anything because they lack control in the way teams assign numbers to their players. The number belongs to the team, when a player leaves or retires the team decides what to do with it.
LeBron James recently re-ignited this issue by publicly announcing that he will switch from No 23 to No 6 as a way of paying respect and honoring Jordan. He is now calling for other teams to retire that number. Some people are looking at this as way in which he is trying to avoid saying which team he will play for next season once his contract end with the Cavaliers.
The decision to retire that number is in the willingness of the NBA teams doing so. The Miami Heat did it without even being pushed. The simple fact is, any player who puts a No 23 Jersey, he will have to be ready in being compared to Jordan.
After so many speculations on who may replace Jordan, the list being short listed every now and then the reality has dawned that no one can ever replace him. LeBron once dubbed as the next Jordan knows this better than anyone else and probably that’s why he is opting for No 6. Whatever his reason, he has the full unquestionable potential of making a legend out of No 6.