James will don No. 6 for the 2021-22 season and Davis will stay with No. 3, the number he wore when L.A. won the championship in his inaugural season with the purple and gold, a team source confirmed to ESPN.
James first wore No. 6 in international competition for Team USA and later wore it for the four seasons he played for the Miami Heat because the organization had already retired No. 23 in honor of Michael Jordan.
He originally planned to switch back to No. 6 in the summer of 2019 when the Lakers acquired Davis, because the big man had worn No. 23 his entire career with New Orleans, but Nike nixed the swap, sources told ESPN, because of potentially tens of millions of dollars’ worth of wasted inventory.
Although James’ choice of No. 23 was influenced by Jordan, he later said that No. 6 was inspired by NBA greats Bill Russell and Julius “Dr. J” Erving, who wore the number. James has continued to wear No. 6 since leaving the Heat in 2014 — on his practice uniform while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers and in L.A. He said the dual number decision was a nod to Deion Sanders, who wore his collegiate No. 2 on his practice jersey but played in No. 21 for most of his NFL career.
The Lakers star will be seen in No. 6 before next season tips off. Promotional materials for James’ upcoming movie, “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” were released this week showing James’ No. 6 “Tune Squad” uniform, as noted by The Athletic, which first reported James’ jersey change.